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K^ 



RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



/ T J.. 



■7 -) 

i- ' r- 



RILLA 



OF INGLESIDE 



BY 



L. M. MONTGOMERY 

Author of "Anne of Green Gables" "Anne of the 

Island," "Anne's House of Dreams," " Rah- 

bow Valley," "The Story Girl," " The 

Watchman," etc. 



A 



** Now they remain to us forever young 
Who with such splendour gave their 



youth away." 



— Sheard 




WnU FRONTISPXBCB IN OOLOUH BY 
M. L. DRK 



NEW YORK 

FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



i'UoLic Lic:;Anv 
88029A 

ArroR. lf::^'X and 

.■1L0-.:.N F .:;■ DA'ir.AN: 



Copyright, 19X1, by 
Fbsoebick a. Stokes Compaky 



AUBighti Beisrved 



*■ « 



To 
THE MEMORY OF 

FREDERICA CAMPBELL MACFARLANE 

WHO WENT AWAY PROM MB WHEN THE DAWN BROKE 
ON JANUARY 25TH, 1919— A TRUE FRIEND, A RARE 
PERSONALITY. A LOYAL AND COURAGEOUS SOUL. 



s 



y 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I Glen "Notes" and Other Matters . . i 

II Dew of Morning 15 

III MooNUT Mirth 22 

IV The Piper Pipes 37 

V "The Sound of a Going" 53 

VI Susan, Rilla^ and Dog Monday Make* 

a Resolution 70 

VII A War Baby and a Soup Tureen . . 80 

VIII RiLLA Decides ........ 91 

IX Doc Has a Misadventure loi 

X The Troubles of Rilla 108 

XI Dark and Bright 122 

XII In the Days of Langemarck .... 135 

XIII A Slice of Humble Pie 143 

XIV The Valley of Decision 155 

XV Until the Day Break ...... 164 

XVI Realism and Romance 173 

XVII The Weeks Wear By 189 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGB 

XVIII A War Wedding 205 

XIX "They Shall Not Pass" 221 

XX Norman Douglas Speaks Out In 

Meeting 231 

XXI "Love Affairs Are Horrible" . . . 238 

XXII Little Dog Monday Knows .... 245 

XXIII "And So, Goodnight" 254 

XXIV Mary is Just in Time 261 

XXV Shirley Goes 273 

XXVI Susan Has a Proposal of Marriage . 283 

XXVII Waiting 296 

XXVIII Black Sunday 314 

XXIX "Wounded and Missing" ..... 320 

XXX The Turning of the Tide .... 326 

XXXI Mrs. Matilda Pitman 33^ 

XXXII Word from Jem 345 

XXXIII Victory!! 355 

XXXIV Mr. Hyde Goes to His Own Place and 

Susan Takes a Honeymoon . . . 358 

XXXV "Rilla-my-Rilla!" 363 



RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



I 



I 



RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

CHAPTER I 
Glen "Notes" and Other Matters 

IT was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon. 
In the big living room at Ingleside Susan Baker 
sat down with a certain grim satisfaction hovering 
about her like an aura ; it was four o'clock and Susan, 
who had been working incessantly since six that morn- 
ing, felt that she had fairly earned an hour of repose 
and gossip. Susan just then was perfectly happy; 
everything had gone almost uncannily well in the 
kitchen that day. Dr. Jekyll had not been Mr. Hyde 
and so had not grated on her nerves ; from where she 
sat she could see the pride of her heart — the bed of 
peonies of her own planting and culture, blooming as 
no other peony plot in Glen St. Mary ever did or could 
bloom, with peonies crimson, peonies silvery pink, 
peonies white as drifts of winter snow. 

Susan had on a new black silk blouse, quite as elab- 
orate as anything Mrs. Marshall Elliott ever wore, and 
a white starched apron, trimmed with complicated cro- 
cheted lace fully five inches wide, not to mention in- 
sertion to match. Therefore Susan had all the com- 
fortable consciousness of a well-dressed woman as she 
opened her copy of the Daily Enterprise and prepared 



2 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

to read the Glen " Notes " which, as Miss Cornelia 
had just informed her, filled half a column of it and 
mentioned almost everybody at Ingleside. There was 
a big, black headline on the front page of the Enter- 
prise, stating that some Archduke Ferdinand or other 
had been assassinated at a place bearing the weird 
name of Sarajevo, but Susan tarried not over uninter- 
esting, immaterial stuff like that; she was in quest of 
something really vital. Oh, here it was — "Jottings 
from Glen St. Mary." Susan settled down keenly, 
reading each one over aloud to extract all possible 
gratification from it. 

Mrs. Blythe and her visitor, Miss Cornelia — alias 
Mrs. Marshall Elliott — were chatting together near 
the open door that led to the veranda, through which 
a cool, delicious breeze was blowing, bringing whiflfs 
of phantom perfume from the garden, and charming 
gay echoes from the vine-hung comer where Rilla and 
Miss Oliver and Walter were laughing and talking. 
Wherever Rilla Blythe was, there was laughter. 

There was another occupant of the living room, 
curled up on a couch, who must not be overlooked, since 
he was a creature of marked individuality, and, more- 
over, had the distinction of being the only living thing 
whom Susan really hated. 

All cats are mysterious but Dr. Jek /11-and-Mr. Hyde 
— "Doc "for short — was trebly so. He was a cat 
of double personality — or else, as Susan vowed, he 
was possessed by the devil. To begin with, there had 
been something unca«>:^ about the very dawn of his 
existence. Four y/ars previously Rilla Blythe had had 
a treasured darling of a kitten, white as snow, with a 
saucy black tip to its tail, which she called Jack Frost. 



GLEN "NOTES" 3 

Susan disliked Jack Frost, though she could not or 
would not give any valid reason therefor. 

" Take my word for it, Mrs. Dr. dear/' she was 
wont to say ominously, "that cat will come to no 
good." 

"But why do you think so?" Mrs. Blythe would 
ask. 

" I do not think — / know" was all the answer 
Susan would vouchsafe. 

With the rest of the Ingleside folk Jack Frost was a 
favourite ; he was so very clean and well groomed, and 
never allowed a spot or stain to be seen on his beauti- 
ful white suit ; he had endearing ways of purring and 
snuggling ; he was scrupulously honest. 

And then a domestic tragedy took place at Ingle- 
side. Jack Frost had kittens! 

It would be vain to try to picture Susan's triumph. 
Had she not always insisted that that cat would turn 
out to be a delusion and a snare ? Now they could see 
for themselves! 

Rilla kept one of the kittens, a very pretty one, with 
peculiarly sleek glossy fur of dark yellow crossed by 
orange stripes, and large, satiny, golden ears. She 
called it Goldie and the name seemed appropriate 
enough to the little frolicsome creature which, during 
Its kittenhood, gave no indication of the sinister nature 
it really possessed. Susan, of course, warned the 
family that no good could be expected from any off- 
spring of that diabolical Jack Frost ; but Susan's Cas- 
sandra-like croakings were unheeded. 

The Blythes had been so accustomed to regard Jack 
Frost as a member of the male sex that they could not 
get out of the habit. So they continually used the 



4 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

masculine pronoun, although the result was ludicrous. 
Visitors used to be quite electrified when RiUa referred 
casually to "Jack and his kitten," or told Goldie 
sternly, " Go to your mother and get him to wash your 
fur." 

" It is not decent, Mrs. Dr. dear," poor Susan would 
say bitterly. She herself compromised by always re- 
ferring to Jack as " it " or " the white beast," and one 
heart at least did not ache when " it " was accidentally 
poisoned the following winter. 

In a year's time " Goldie " became so manifestly an 
inadequate name for the orange kitten that Walter, 
who was just then reading Stevenson's story, changed 
it to Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde. In his Dr. Jekyll 
mood the cat was a drowsy, affectionate, domestic, 
cushion-loving puss, who liked petting and gloried in 
being nursed and patted. Especially did he love to lie 
on his back and have his sleek, cream-coloured throat 
stroked gently while he purred in somnolent satisfac- 
tion. He was a notable purrer; never had there been 
an Ingleside cat who purred so constantly and so 
ecstatically. 

" The only thing I envy a cat is its purr," remarked 
Dr. Blythe once, listening to Doc's resonant melody. 
" It is the most contented sound in the world." 

Doc was very handsome; his every movement was 
grace; his poses magnificent. When he folded his 
long, dusky-ringed tail about his feet and sat him down 
on the veranda to gaze steadily into space for long in- 
tervals the Blythes felt that an Egyptian sphinx could 
not have made a more fitting Deity of the Portal. 

When the Mr. Hyde mood came upon him — which 
it invariably did before rain, or wind — he was a wild 



GLEN "NOTES" 5 

thing with changed eyes. The transformation always 
came suddenly. He would spring fiercely from a rev- 
erie with a savage snarl and bite at any restraining or 
caressing hand. His fur seemed to grow darker and 
his eyes gleamed with a diabolical light. There was 
really an unearthly beauty about him. If the change 
happened in the twilight all the Ingleside folk felt a 
certain terror of him. At such times ne was a fear- 
some beast and only Rilla defended him, asserting that 
he was " such a nice prowly cat.'* Certainly he 
prowled. 

Dr. Jekyll loved new milk; Mr. Hyde would not 
touch milk and growled over his meat. Dr. Jekyll 
came down the stairs so silently that no one could hear 
him. Mr. Hyde made his tread as heavy as a man's. 
Several evenings, when Susan was alone in the house, 
he " scared her stiff," as she declared, by doing this. 
He would sit in the middle of the kitchen floor, with 
his terrible eyes fixed unwinkingly upon hers for an 
hour at a time. This played havoc with her nerves, 
but poor Susan really held him in too much awe to 
try to drive him out. Once she had dared to throw a 
stick at him and he had promptly made a savage leap 
toward her. Susan rushed out of doors and never 
attempted to meddle with Mr. Hyde again — though 
she visited his misdeeds upon the innocent Dr. Jekyll, 
chasing him ignominiously out of her domain when- 
ever he dared to poke his nose in and denying him cer- 
tain savory tidbits for which he yearned. 

" ' The many friends of Miss Faith Meredith, Gerald 
Meredith and James Blythe,' read Susan, rolling the 
names like sweet morsels under her tongue, ' were 
very much pleased to welcome them home a few weeks 



6 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ago from Redmond College. James Blythe, who was 
graduated in Arts in 1913, has just completed his first 
year in medicine/ " 

" Faith Meredith has really got to be the handsom- 
est creature I ever saw," commented Miss Cornelia 
above her filet crochet. " It's amazing how those 
children came on after Rosemary West went to the 
manse. People have almost forgotten what imps of 
mischief they were once. Anne, dearie, will you 
ever forget the way they used to carry on? It's 
really surprising how well Rosemary got on with them. 
She's more like a chum than a stepmother. They all 
love her and Una adores her. As for that little Bruce, 
Una just makes a perfect slave of herself to him. Of 
cotSrse, he iy a darling. But did you ever see any child 
look as much like an aunt as he looks like his Aunt 
Ellen? He's just as dark and just as emphatic. I 
can't see a feature of Rosemary in him. Norman 
Douglas always vows at the top of his voice that the 
stork meant Bruce for him and Ellen and took him to 
the manse by mistake." 

" Bruce adores Jem," said Mrs. Blythe. " When 
he comes over here he just follows Jem about silently 
like a faithful little dog, looking up at him from under 
his black brows. He would do anything for Jem, I 
verily believe." 

" Are Jem and Faith going to make a match of it? '* 

Mrs. Blythe smiled. It was well known that Miss 

Cornelia, who had been such a virulent man-hater at 

one time, had actually taken to match-making in her 

declining years. 

" They are only good friends yet. Miss Cornelia." 
'' Very good friends, believe me/' said Miss Cor- 



GLEN "NOTES'^ 7 

nelia emphatically. " I hear all about the doings of 
the young fry." 

" I have no doubt that Mary Vance sees that you 
do, Mrs. Marshall Elliott/' said Susan significantly, 
" but / think it is a shame to talk about children making 
matches." 

" Children ! Jem is twenty-one and Faith is nine- 
teen," retorted Miss Cornelia. "You must not for- 
get, Susan, that we old folks are not the only grown- 
up people in the world." 

Outraged Susan, who detested any reference to her 
age — not from vanity but from a haunting dread that 
people might come to think her too old to work — re- 
turned to her " Notes." 

" * Carl Meredith and Shirley Blythe came home 
last Friday evening from Queen's Academy. We un- 
derstand that Carl will be in charge of the school at 
Harbour Head next year and we are sure he will be a 
popular and successful teacher.* " 

" He will teach the children all there is to know 
about bugs, anyhow," said Miss Cornelia. " He is 
through with Queen's now and Mr. Meredith and 
Rosemary wanted him to go right on to Redmond in 
the fall, but Carl has a very independent streak in him 
and means to earn part of his own way through col- 
lege. He'll be all the better for it." 

" * Walter Blythe, who has been teaching for the 
past two years at Lowbridge, has resigned,' " read 
Susan. " ' We understand that he intends going to 
Redmond this fall.' " 

" Is Walter quite strong enough for Redmond yet ? " 
queried Miss Cornelia anxiously. 

We hope that he will be by the fall," said Mrs. 



a 



8 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Blythe. " An idle summer in the open air and sun- 
shine will do a great deal for him." 

" Typhoid is a hard thing to get over," said Miss 
Cornelia emphatically, ** especially when one has had 
such a close shave as Walter had. I think he'd do 
well to stay out of college another year. But then he's 
so ambitious. Are Di and Nan going too? " 

*' Yes. They both wanted to teach another year 
but Gilbert thinks they would better go to Redmond 
this fall." 

" Fm glad of that. They'll keep an eye on Walter 
and see that he doesn't study too hard. I suppose," 
continued Miss Cornelia, with a side glance at Susan, 
" that after the snub I got a few minutes ago it will 
not be safe for me to suggest that Jerry Meredith is 
making sheep's eyes at Nan." 

Susan ignored this and Mrs. Blythe laughed again. 

" Dear Miss Cornelia, I have my hands full, haven't 
I? — with all these boys and girls sweethearting 
around me? If I took it seriously it would quite 
crush me. But I don't — it is too hard yet to realize 
that they've grown up. When I look at those two tall 
sons of mine I wonder if they can possibly be the fat, 
sweet, dimpled babies I kissed and cuddled and sang 
to slumber the other day — only the other day. Miss 
Cornelia. Wasn't Jem the dearest baby in the old 
House af Dreams ? And now he's a b. a. and ac- 
cused of courting." 

" We're all growing older," sighed Miss Cornelia. 

"The only part of me that feels old," said Mrs. 
Blythe, " is the ankle I broke when Josie Pye dared me 
to walk the Barry ridge-pole in the Green Gables days. 
I have an ache in it when the wind is east. I won't 



GLEN "NOTES'^ 9 

admit that it is rheumatism, but it does ache. As for 
the children, they and the Merediths are planning a 
gay summer before they have to go back to studies in 
the fall. They are such a fun-loving little crowd. 
They keep this house in a perpetual whirl of merri- 
ment." 

" Is Rilla going to Queen's when Shirley goes 
back?" 

" It isn't decided yet. I rather fancy not. For 
one thing, her father thinks she is not quite strong 
enough — she has rather outgrown her strength — 
she's really absurdly tall for a girl not yet fifteen. I 
am not anxious to have her go — why, it would be 
terrible not to have a single one of my babies home 
with me next winter. Susan and I would fall to 
fighting with each other to break the monotony." 

Susan smiled at this pleasantry. The idea of her 
fighting with " Mrs. Dr. dear! " 

" Does Rilla herself want to go? " asked Miss Cor- 
nelia. 

" No. The truth is, Rilla is the only one of my 
flock who isn't ambitious. I really wish she had a 
little more ambition. She has no serious ideals at all 
— her sole aspiration seems to be to have a good time." 

" And why should she not have it, Mrs. Dr. dear ? " 
cried Susan, who could not bear to hear a single word 
against any one of the Ingleside folk, even from one of 
themselves. " A young girl should have a good time, 
and that I will maintain. There will be time enough 
for her to think of Latin and Greek." 

" I should like to see a little sense of responsibility 
in her, Susan. And you know yourself that she is 
abominably vain." 



lo RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

*' She has something to be vain about," retorted 
Susan. *' She is the prettiest girl in Glen St. Mary. 
Do you think that all those over-harbour MacAllisters 
and Craw fords and Elliotts could scare up a skin like 
Rilla's in four generations? They could not. No, 
Mrs. Dr. dear, I know my place but I cannot allow you 
to run down Rilla. Listen to this, Mrs. Marshall 
Elliott." 

Susan had found a chance to get square with Miss 
Cornelia for her digs at the children's love affairs. 
She read the item with gusto. 

" ' Miller Douglas has decided not to go West. He 
says old P. E. I. is good enough for him and he will 
continue to farm for his aunt, Mrs. Alec Davis.' " 

Susan looked keenly at Miss Cornelia. 

" I have heard, Mrs. Marshall Elliott, that Miller is 
courting Mary Vance." 

This shot pierced Miss Cornelia's armour. Her 
sonsy face flushed. 

" I won't have Miller Douglas hanging round 
Mary," she said crisply. " He comes of a low family. 
His father was a sort of outcast from the Douglases 
— they never really counted him in — and his mother 
was one of those terrible Dillons from the Harbour 
Head." 

" I think I have heard, Mrs. Marshalf Elliott, that 
Mary Vance's own parents were not what you could 
call aristocratic." 

*' Mary Vance has had a good bringing up and she 
is a smart, clever, capable girl," retorted Miss Cor- 
nelia. " She is not gping to throw herself away on 
Miller Douglas, believe me! She knows my opinion 
on the matter and Mary has never disobeyed me yet." 



GLEN "NOTES" U 

" Well, I do not think you need worry, Mrs. Mar- 
shall Elliott, for Mrs. Alec Davis is as much against it 
as you could be, and says no nephew of hers is ever 
going to marry a nameless nobody like Mary Vance." 

Susan returned to her mutton, feeling that she had 
got the best of it in this passage of arms, and read 
another " note." 

" 'We are pleased to hear that Miss Oliver has been 
engaged as teacher for another year. Miss Oliver will 
spend her well-earned vacation at her home in Low- 
bridge.' " 

" I'm so glad Gertrude is going to stay," said Mrs. 
Blythe. " We would miss her horribly. And she has 
an excellent influence over Rilla who worships her. 
They are chyms, in spite of the difference in their 
ages." 
, " I thought I heard she was going to be married ? " 

" I believe it was talked of but I understand it is 
postponed for a year." 

" Who is the young man ? " 

" Robert Grant. He is a young lawyer in Charlotte- 
town. I hope Gertrude will be happy. She has had 
a sad life, with much bitterness in it, and she feels 
things with a terrible keenness. Her first youth is 
gone and she is practically alone in the world. This 
new love that has come into her life seems such a won- 
derful thing to her that I think she hardly dares be- 
lieve in its permanence. When her marriage had to 
be put off she was quite in despair — though it cer- 
tainly wasn't Mr. Grant's fault. There were compli- 
cations in the settlement of his father's estate — his 
father died last winter — and he could not marry till 
the tangles were unravelled. But I think Gertrude 



1 2 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

felt it was a bad omen and that her happiness would 
somehow elude her yet." 

" It does not do, Mrs. Dr. dear, to set your affec- 
tions too much on a man," remarked Susan solemnly. 

" Mr. Grant is quite as much in love with Gertrude 
as she is with him, Susan. It is not he whom she dis- 
trusts — it is fate. She has a little mystic streak in 
her — I suppose some people would call her super- 
stitious. She has an odd belief in dreams and we have 
not been able to laugh it out of her. I must own, too, 
that some of her dreams — but there, it would not do 
to let Gilbert hear me hinting such heresy. What 
have you found of such interest, Susan?" 

Susan had given an exclamation. 

" Listen to this, Mrs. Dr. dear. * Mrs. Sophia 
Crawford has given up her house at Lowbridge and 
will make her home in future with her niece, Mrs. 
Albert Crawford.' Why that is my own cousin 
Sophia, Mrs. Dr. dear. We quarrelled when we were 
children over who should get a Sunday school card 
with the words * God is Love ', wreathed in rosebuds, 
on it, and have never spoken to each other since. And 
now she is coming to live right across the road from 



us." 



You will have to make up the old quarrel, Susan. 
It will never do to be at outs with your neighbours." 
" Cousin Sophia began the quarrel, so she can begin 
the making up also, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan loftily. 
"If she does I hope I am a good enough Christian to 
meet her half way. She is not a cheerful person and 
has been a wet blanket all her life. The last time I 
saw her, her face had a thousand wrinkles —  maybe 
more, maybe less — from worrying and foreboding. 



/ 

GLEN "NOTES" 13 

She howled dreadful at her first husband's funeral but 
she married again in less than a year. The next note, I, 
see, describes the special service in our church last Sun- 
day night and says the decorations were very beau- 
tiful." 

" Speaking of that reminds me that Mr. Pryor 
strongly disapproves of flowers in church," said Miss 
Cornelia. " I always said there would be trouble 
when that man moved here from Lowbridge. He 
should never have been put in as elder — it was a mis- 
take and we shall live to rue it, believe me! I have 
heard that he has said that if the girls continue to * mess 
up the pulpit with weeds ' that he will not go to 
church." 

" The church got on very well before old Whiskers- 
on-the-moon came to the Glen and it is my opinion it 
will get on without him after he is gone," said Susan. 

" Who in the world ever gave him that ridiculous 
nickname?" asked Mrs. Blythe. 

" Why, the Lowbridge boys have called him that 
ever since I can remember, Mrs. Dr. dear. — I sup- 
pose because his face is so round and red, with that 
fringe of sandy whisker about it. It does not do for 
any one to call him that in his hearing, though, and 
that you may tie to. But worse than his whiskers, 
Mrs. Dr. dear, he is a very unreasonable man and has 
a great many queer ideas. He is an elder now and 
they say he is very religious ; but / can well remember 
the time, Mrs. Dr. dear, twenty years ago, when he 
was caught pasturing his cow in the Lowbridge grave- 
yard. Yes, indeed, I have not forgotten that, and I 
always think of it when he is praying in meeting. 
Well, that is all the notes and there is not much else in 



\ 

14 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the paper of any importance. I never take much in- 
terest in foreign parts. Who is this Archduke man 
who has been murdered ? " 

" What does it matter to us ? ^ asked Miss Cornelia, 
unaware of the hideous answer to her question which 
destiny was even then preparing. " Somebody is al- 
ways murdering or being murdered in those Balkan 
States. It's their normal condition and I don't really 
think that our papers ought to print such shocking 
things. The Enterprise is getting far too sensational 
with its big headlines. Well, I must be getting home. 
No, Anne dearie, it's no use asking me to stay to sup- 
per. Marshall has got to thinking that if I'm not home 
for a meal it's not worth eating — just like a man. 
So off I go. Merciful goodness, Anne dearie, what 
is the matter with that cat? Is he having a fit? " — 
this, as Doc suddenly bounded to the rug at Miss Cor- 
nelia's feet, laid back his ears, swore at her, and then 
disappeared with one fierce leap through the window. 

" Oh, no. He's merely turning into Mr. Hyde — 
which means that we shall have rain or high wind be- 
fore morning. Doc is as good as a barometer." 

" Well, I am thankful he has gone on the rampage 
outside this time and not into my kitchen," said Susan. 
" And I am going out to see about supper. With such 
a crowd as we have at Ingleside now it behooves us to 
think about our meals betimes." 



DEW OF MORNING 15 



CHAPTER II 
Dew of Morning 

OUTSIDE, the Ingleside lawn was full of golden 
pools of sunshine and plots of alluring shadows. 
Rilla Blythe was swinging in the hammock under the 
big Scotch pine, Gertrude Oliver sat at its roots beside 
her, and Walter was stretched at full length on the 
grass, lost in a romance of chivalry wherein old heroes 
and beauties of dead and gone centuries lived vividly 
again for him. 

Rilla was the " baby " of the Blythe family and was 
in a chronic state of secret indignation because nobody 
believed she was grown up. She was so nearly fifteen 
that she called herself that, and she was quite as tall as 
Di and Nan; also, she was nearly as pretty as Susan 
believed her to be. She had great, dreamy, hazel eyes, 
a milky skin dappled with little golden freckles, and 
delicately arched eyebrows, giving her a demure, ques- 
tioning look which made people, especially lads in their 
teens, want to answer it. Her hair was ripely, ruddily 
brown and a little dent in her upper lip looked as if 
some good fairy had pressed it in with her finger at 
Rilla's christening. Rilla, whose best friends could 
not deny her share of vanity, thought her face would 
do very well, but worried over her figure, and wished 
her mother could be prevailed upon to let her wear 
longer dresses. She, who had been so plump and 
roly-poly in the old Rainbow Valley days, was in- 
credibly slim now, in the arms-and-legs period. Jem 
and Shirley harrowed her soul by calling her " Spider. 



if 



i6 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Yet she somehow escaped awkwardness. There was 
something in her movements that made you think she 
never walked but always danced. She had been much 
petted and was a wee bit spoiled, but still the general 
opinion was that Rilla Blythe was a very sweet girl, 
even if she were not so clever as Nan and Di. 

Miss Oliver, who was going home that night for va- 
cation, had boarded for a year at Ingleside. The 
Blythes had taken her to please Rilla who was 
fathoms deep in love with her teacher and was even 
willing to share her room, since no other was avail- 
able. Gertrude Oliver was twenty-eight and life had 
been a struggle for her. She was a striking-looking 
girl, with rather sad, almond-shaped brown eyes, a 
clever, rather mocking mouth, and enormous masses 
of black hair twisted about her head. She was not 
pretty but there was a certain charm of interest and 
mystery in her face, and Rilla found her fascinating. 
Even her occasional moods of gloom and cynicism had 
allurement for Rilla. These moods came only when 
Miss Oliver was tired. At all other times she was a 
stimulating companion, and the gay set at Ingleside 
never remembered that she was so much older than 
themselves. Walter and Rilla were her favourites 
and she was the confidante of the secret wishes and as- 
pirations of both. She knew that Rilla longed to be 
"out" — to go to parties as Nan and Di did, and to 
have dainty evening dresses and — yes, there is no use 
mincing matters — beaux! In the plural, at that! 
As for Walter, Miss Oliver knew that he had written 
a sequence of sonnets " To Rosamond " — i. e. Faith 
Meredith — and that he aimed at a Professorship of 
English literature in some big college. She knew his 



DEW OF MORNING 17 

passionate love of beauty and his equally passionate 
hatred of ugliness; she knew his strength and his 
weakness. 

Walter was, as ever, the handsomest of the Ingle- 
side boys. Miss Oliver found pleasure in looking at 
him for his good looks — he was so exactly like what 
she would have liked her own son to be. Glossy black 
hair, brilliant dark grey eyes, faultless features. And 
a poet to his finger tips! That sonnet sequence was 
really a remarkable thing for a lad of twenty to write. 
Miss Oliver was no partial critic and she knew that 
Walter Blythe had a wonderful gift. 

Rilla loved Walter with all her heart. He never 
teased her as Jem and Shirley did. He never called 
her " Spider." His pet name for her was " Rilla-my- 
Rilla *' — a little pun on her real name, Marilla. She 
had been named after Aunt Marilla of Green Gables, 
but Aunt Marilla had died before Rilla was old enough 
to know her very well, and Rilla detested the name as 
being horribly old-fashioned and prim. Why couldn't 
they have called her by her first name. Bertha, which 
was beautiful and dignified, instead of that silly 
" Rilla " ? She did not mind Walter's version, but 
nobody else was allowed to call her that, except Miss 
Oliver now and then. *^ Rilla-my-Rilla " in Walter's 
musical voice sounded very beautiful to her — like 
the lilt and ripple of some silvery brook. She would 
have died for Walter if it would have done him any 
good, so she told Miss Oliver. Rilla was as fond of 
italics as most girls of fifteen are — and the bitterest 
drop in her cup was her suspicion that he told Di more 
of his secrets than he told her. 

** He thinks I'm not grown-up enough to under- 



i8 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

stand/' she had once lamented rebelHousIy to Miss 
Oliver, " but I am ! And I would never tell them to a 
single soul — not even to you, Miss Oliver. I tell you 
all my own — I just couldn't be happy if I had any 
secret from you, dearest — but I would never betray 
his. / tell him everything — I even show him my 
diary. And it hurts me dreadfully when he doesn't 
tell me things. He shows me all his poems, though — 
they are marvellous, Miss Oliver. Oh, I just live in 
the hope that some day I shall be to Walter what 
Wordsworth's sister Dorothy was to him. Words- 
worth never wrote anything like Walter's poems — 
nor Tennyson, either.'' 

" I wouldn't say just that. Both of them wrote a 
great deal of trash," said Miss Oliver dryly. .Then, 
repenting, as she saw a hurt look in Rilla's eye, she 
added hastily, 

" But I believe Walter will be a great poet, too — 
some day — perhaps the first really great poet Canada 
has ever had — and you will have more of his con- 
fidence as you grow older." 

" When Walter was in the hospital with typhoid last 
year I was almost crazy," sighed Rilla, a little impor- 
tantly. " They never told me how ill he really was 
until it was all over — father wouldn't let them. I'm 
glad I didn't know — I couldn't have borne it. I cried 
myself to sleep every night as it was. But sometimes," 
concluded Rilla bitterly — she liked to speak bitterly 
now and then in imitation of Miss Oliver — "some- 
times I think Walter cares more for Dog Monday than 
he does for me." 

Dog Monday was the Ingleside dog, so called be- 
cause he had come into the family on a Monday when 



DEW OF MORNING 19 

Walter had been reading Robinson Crusoe. He really 
belonged to Jem but was much attached to Walter also. 
He was lying beside Walter now with nose snuggled 
against his arm, thumping his tail rapturously when- 
ever Walter gave him an absent pat. Monday was 
not a collie or a setter or a hound or a Newfoundland. 
He was just, as Jem said, " plain dog " — very plain 
dog, uncharitable people added. Certainly, Monday's 
looks were not his strong point. Black spots were scat- 
tered at random over his yellow carcass, one of them, 
apparently, blotting out an eye. His ears were in tat- 
ters, for Monday was never successful in affairs of 
honour. But he possessed one talisman. He knew that 
not all dogs could be handsome or eloquent or victor- 
ious, but that every dog could love. Inside his homely 
hide beat the most affectionate, loyal, faithful heart of 
any dog since dogs were ; and something looked out of 
his brown eyes that was nearer akin to a soul than any 
theologian would allow. Everybody at Ingleside was 
fond of him, even Susan, although his one unfortu- 
nate propensity of sneaking into the spare room and 
going to sleep upon the bed tried her affection sorely. 

On this particular afternoon Rilla had no quarrel on 
hand with existing conditions. 

" Hasn't June been a delightful month? " she asked, 
looking dreamily afar at the little quiet silvery clouds 
hanging so peacefully over Rainbow Valley. " We've 
had such lovely times — and such lovely weather. It 
has just been perfect every way." 

" I don't half like that," said Miss Oliver, with a 
sigh. " It's ominous — somehow. A perfect thing 
is a gift of the gods — a sort of compensation for 
what is coming afterwards. I've seen that so often 



20 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

that I don't care to hear people say they've had a per- 
fect time. June has been delightful, though." 

" Of course, it hasn't been very exciting," said Rilla. 
"The only exciting thing that has happened in the 
Glen for a year was old Miss Mead fainting in Church. 
Sometimes I wish something dramatic would happen 
once in a while." 

" Don't wish it. Dramatic things always have a 
bitterness for some one. What a nice summer all you 
gay creatures will have! And me moping at Low- 
bridge!" 

"You'll be over often, won't you? I think there's 
going to be lots of fun this summer, though I'll just 
be on the fringe of things as usual, I suppose. Isn't 
it horrid when people keep thinking you're a little girl 
when you're not ? " 

"There's plenty of time for you to be grown up, 
Rilla. Don't wish your youth away. It goes too 
quickly. You'll begin to taste life soon enough." 

" Taste life ! I want to eat it," cried Rilla laughing. 
" I want everything — everything a girl can have. 
I'll be fifteen in another month, and then nobody can 
say I'm a child any longer. I heard some one say once 
that the years from fifteen to nineteen are the best 
years in a girl's life. I'm going to make them per- 
fectly splendid — just fill them with fun." 

" There's no use thinking about what you're going 
to do — you are tolerably sure not to do it." 

" Oh, but you do get a lot of fun out of the think- 
ing," cried Rilla. 

" You think of nothing but fun, you monkey," said 
Miss Oliver indulgently, reflecting that Rilla's chin 
was really the last word in chins. " Well, what else 



DEW OF MORNING 21 

is fifteen for? But have you any notion of going to 
college this fall?" 

" No — nor any other fall. I don't want to. I 
never cared for all those ologies and isms Nan and Di 
are so crazy about. And there's five of us going to 
college already. Surely that's enough. There's 
bound to be one dunce in every family. I'm quite 
willing to be a dunce if I can be a pretty, popular, de- 
lightful one. I can't be clever. I have no talent at 
all, and you can't imagine how comfortable it is. No- 
body expects me to do anything so I*m never pestered 
to do it. And I can't be a housewifely, cookly crea- 
ture, either. I hate sewing and dusting, and when 
Susan couldn't teach me to make biscuits nobody could. 
Father says I toil not neither do I spin. Therefore, I 
must be a lily of the field," concluded Rilla, with an- 
other laugh. 

" You are too young to give up your studies alto- 
gether, Rilla." 

" Oh, mother will put me through a course of read- 
ing next winter. It will polish up her b. a. degree. 
Luckily I like reading. Don't look at me so sorrow- 
fully and so disapprovingly, dearest. I can't be sober 
and serious — everything looks so rosy and rainbowy 
to me. Next month Til be fifteen — and next year 
sixteen — and the year after that, seventeen. Could 
anything be more enchanting? " 

*' Rap wood," said Gertrude Oliver, half laughingly, 
half seriously. " Rap wood, Rilla-my-Rilla." 



22 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



CHAPTER III 
Moonlit Mirth 

RILLA, who still buttoned up her eyes when she 
went to sleep so that she always looked as if 
she were laughing in her slumber, yawned, stretched, 
and smiled at Gertrude Oliver. The latter had come 
over from Lowbridge the previous evening and had 
been prevailed upon to remain for the dance at the 
Four Winds lighthouse the next night. 

" The new day is knocking at the window. What 
will it bring us, I wonder." 

Miss Oliver shivered a little. She never greeted the 
days with Rilla's enthusiasm. She had Uved long 
enough to know that a day may bring a terrible thing. 

''/ think the nicest thing about days is their unex- 
pectedness," went on Rilla. " It's jolly to wake up 
like this on a golden-fine morning and wonder what 
surprise packet the day will hand you. I always day- 
dream for ten minutes before I get up, imagining the 
heaps of splendid things that may happen before 
night." 

" I hope something very unexpected will happen to- 
day," said Gertrude. " I hope the mail will bring us 
news that war has been averted between Germany and 
France." 

" Oh — yes," said Rilla vaguely. '* It will be dread- 
ful if it isn't, I suppose. But it won't really matter 
much to us, will it ? I think a war would be so excit- 
ing. The Boer war was, they say, but I don't remem- 
ber an)rthing about it, of course. Miss Oliver, shall 



MOONLIT MIRTH 23 

I wear my white dress tonight or my new green one ? 
The green one is by far the prettier, of course, but Fm 
almost afraid to wear it to a shore dance for fear 
something will happen to it. And zvill you do my hair 
the new way? None of the other girls in the Glen 
wear it yet and it will make such a sensation/* 

*' How did you induce your mother to let you go to 
the dance ? " 

" Oh, Walter coaxed her over. He knew I would 
t)e heart-broken if I didn't go. It's my first really- 
truly grown-up party, Miss Oliver, and I've just lain 
awake at nights for a week thinking it over. When I 
saw the sun shining this morning I wanted to whoop 
for joy. It would be simply terrible if it rained to- 
night. I think ril wear the green dress and risk it. I 
want to look my nicest at my first party. Besides, it's 
an inch longer than my white one. And.rU wear my 
silver slippers too. Mrs. Ford sent them to me last 
Christmas and I've never had a chance to wear them 
yet. They're the dearest things. Oh, Miss Oliver, I 
do hope some of the boys will ask me to dance. I 
shall die of mortification — truly I will, if nobody 
does and I have to sit stuck up against the wall all the 
evening. Of course Carl and Jerry can't dance be- 
cause they're the minister's sons, or else I could depend 
on them to save me from utter disgrace." 

"You'll have plenty of partners — all the over- 
harbour boys are coming — there'll be far more boys 
than girls." 

** I'm glad I'm not a minister's daughter," laughed 
Rilla. " Poor Faith is so furious because she won't 
dare to dance tonight. Una doesn't care, of course. 
She has never hankered after dancing. Somebody 



\ 



24 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

told Faith there would be a taffy-pull in the kitchen 
for those who didn't dance and you should have seen 
the face she made. She and Jem will sit out on the 
rocks most of the evening, I suppose. Did you know 
that we are all to walk down as far as that little creek 
below the old House of Dreams and then sail to the 
lighthouse? Won't it just be absolutely divine? " 

" When I was fifteen I talked in italics and superla- 
tives too," said Miss Oliver sarcastically, " I think 
the party promises to be pleasant for young fry. / 
expect to be bored. None oJF those boys will bother 
dancing with an old maid like me. Jem and Walter 
will take me out once out of charity. There will be 
nobody for me even to talk to. So you can't expect 
me to look forward to it with your touching yotmg 
rapture." 

" Didn't you have a good time at your first party, 
though, Miss Oliver ? " 

" No, I had a hateful time. I was shabby and 
homely and nobody asked me to dance except one boy, 
homelier and shabbier than myself. He was so 
awkward I hated him — and even he didn't ask me 
again. I had no real girlhood, Rilla. It's a sad loss. 
That's why I want you to have a splendid, happy girl- 
hood. And I hope your first party will be one you'll 
remember all your life with pleasure." 

" I dreamed last night I was at the dance and right 
in the middle of things I discovered I was dressed in 
my kimono and bedroom shoes," sighed Rilla. " I 
woke up with a gasp of horror." 

" Speaking of dreams — I had an odd. one," said 
Miss Oliver absently. " It was one of those vivid 
dreams I sometimes have — they are not the vague 



€4 



MOONLIT MIRTH 25 

jumble of ordinary dreams — they are as clear cut and 
real as life." 

What was your dream ? " 

I was standing on the veranda steps, here at Ingle- 
side, looking down over the fields of the Glen. All at 
once, far in the distance, I saw a long, silvery, glisten- 
ing wave breaking over them. It came nearer and 
nearer — just a succession of little white waves like 
those that break on the sandshore sometimes. The 
Glen was being swallowed up. I thought, * Surely the 
waves will not come near Ingleside * — but they came 
nearer and nearer — so rapidly — before I could move 
or call they were breaking right at my feet — and 
everything was gone — there was nothing but a waste 
of stormy water where the Glen had been. I tried to 
draw back — and I saw that the edge of my dress was 
wet with blood — and I woke — shivering. I don't 
like the dream. There was some sinister significance 
in it. That kind of vivid dream always ' comes true * 
with me.'* 

** I hope it doesn't mean there's a storm coming up 
from the east to spoil the party," murmured Rilla 
anxiously. 

" Incorrigible fifteen ! " said Miss Oliver dryly. 
" No, Rilla-my-Rilla, I don't think there is any dan- 
ger that it foretells, anything so awful as that." 

There had been an undercurrent of tension in the 
Ingleside existence for several days. Only Rilla, ab- 
sorbed in her own budding life, was unaware of it. 
Dr. Bl)rthe had taken to looking grave and saying lit- 
tle over the daily paper. Jem and Walter were keenly 
interested in the news it brought Jem sought Walter 
out in excitement that evening. 



26 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

"Oh, boy, Germany has declared war on France. 
This means that England will fight too, probably — 
and if she does — well, the Piper of your old fancy 
will have come at last." 

" It wasn't a fancy,*' said Walter slowly. " It was 
a presentiment — a vision — Jem, I really saw him 
for a moment that evening long ago. Suppose Eng- 
land does fight ? " 

*' Why, we'll all have to turn in and help her/* cried 
Jem gaily. " We couldn't let the ' old grey mother of 
the northern sea ' fight it out alone, could we ? But 
you can't go — the typhoid has done you out of that. 
Sort of a shame, eh? " 

Walter did not say whether it was a shame or not. 
He looked silently over the Glen to the dimpling blue 
harbour beyond. 

" We're the cubs — we've got to pitch in tooth and 
claw if it comes to a family row," Jem went on cheer- 
fully, rumpling up his red curls with a strong, lean, 
sensitive brown hand — the hand of the bom surgeon, 
his father often thought. " What an adventure it 
would be ! But I suppose Grey or some of those wary 
old chaps will patch matters up at the eleventh hour. 
It'll be a rotten shame if they leave France in the lurch, 
though. If they don't, we'll see some fun. Well, I 
suppose it's time to get ready for the spree at the 
light." 

Jem departed whistling " Wi' a hundred pipers and 
a* and a'," and Walter stood for a long time where he 
was. There was a little frown on his forehead. This 
had all come up with the blackness and suddenness of 
a thundercloud. A few days ago nobody had even 



MOONLIT MIRTH 27 

thought of such a thing. It was absurd to think of it 
now. Some way out would be found. War was a 
hellish, horrible, hideous thing — too horrible and 
hideous to happen in the twentieth century between 
civilized nations. The mere thought of it was hideous, 
and made Walter utihappy in its threat to the beauty 
of life. He would not think of it — he would reso- 
lutely put it out of his mind. How beautiful the old 
Glen was, in its August ripeness, with its chain of 
bowery old homesteads, tilled meadows and quiet gar- 
dens. The western sky was like a great golden pearl. 
Far down the harbour was frosted with a dawning 
moonlight. The air was full of exquisite sounds — 
sleepy robin whistles, wonderful, mournful, soft mur- 
murs of wind in the twilit trees, rustle of aspen pop- 
lars talking in silvery whispers and shaking their 
dainty, heart-shaped leaves, lilting young laughter 
from the windows of rooms where the girls were mak- 
ing ready for the dance. The world was steeped in 
maddening loveliness of sound and color. He would 
think only of these things and of the deep, subtle joy 
they gave him. " Anyhow, no one will expect me to 
go," he thought. " As Jem says, typhoid has seen to 
that.'' 

Rilla was leaning out of her room window, dressed 
for the dance. A yellow pansy slipped from her hair 
and fell out over the sill like a falling star of gold. 
She caught at it vainly — but there were enough left. 
Miss Oliver had woven a little wreath of them for her 
pet's hair. 

"It's so beautifully calm — isn't that splendid? 
We'll have a perfect night. Listen, Miss Oliver — I 



28 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

can hear those old bells in Rainbow Valley quite 
clearly. They've been hanging there for over ten 
years." 

" Their wind chime always makes me think of the 
aerial, celestial music Adam and Eve heard in Milton's 
Eden," responded Miss Oliver. 

" We used to have such fun in Rainbow Valley when 
we were children," said Rilla dreamily. 

Nobody ever played in Rainbow Valley now. It 
was very silent on summer evenings. Walter liked 
to go there to read. Jem and Faith trysted there con- 
siderably; Jerry and Nan went there to pursue unin- 
terruptedly the ceaseless wrangles and arguments on 
profound subjects that seemed to be their preferred 
method of sweethearting. And Rilla had a beloved 
little sylvan dell of her own there where she liked to 
sit and dream. 

" I must run down to the kitchen before I go and 
show myself off to Susan. She would never forgive 
me if I didn't." 

Rilla whirled into the shadowy kitchen at Ingleside, 
where Susan was prosaically darning socks, and lighted 
it up with her beauty. She wore her green dress with 
its little pink daisy garlands, her silk stockings and sil- 
ver slippers. She had golden pansies in her hair and 
at her creamy throat. She was so pretty and young 
and glowing that even Cousin Sophia Crawford was ' 
compelled to admire her — and Cousin Sophia Craw- 
ford admired few transient earthly things. Cousin 
Sophia and Susan h^d made up, or ignored, their old 
feud since the former had come to live in the Glen, and 
Cousin Sophia often came across in the evenings to 
make a neighbourly call. Susan did not always wel- 



MOONLIT MIRTH 29 

come her rapturously for Cousin Sophia was not what 
could be called an exhilarating companion. " Some 
calls are visits and some are visitations, Mrs. Dr. 
dear," Susan said once, and left it to be inferred that 
Cousin Sophia's were the latter. 

Cousin Sophia had a long, pale, wrinkled face, a 
long, thin nose, a long, thin mouth, and very long, thin, 
pale hands, generally folded resignedly on her black 
calico lap. Everything about her seemed long and 
thin and pale. She looked mournfully upon Rilla 
Blythe and said sadly, 

" Is your hair all your own? " 

*' Of course it is," cried Rilla indignantly. 

" Ah, well ! " Cousin Sophia sighed. " It might be 
better for you if it wasn't ! Such a lot of hair takes 
from a person's strength. It's a sign of consumption, 
I've heard, but I hope it won't turn out like that in 
your case. I s'pose youll all be dancing tonight — 
even the minister's boys most likely. I s'pose his girls 
won't go that far. Ah, well, I never held with danc- 
ing. I knew a girl once who dropped dead while she 
was dancing. How any one could ever dance aga* 
after a judgment like that I cannot comprehend." 
Did she ever dance again? " asked Rilla pertly. 
I told you she dropped dead. Of course she never 
danced again, poor creature. She was a Kirke from 
Lowbridge. You ain't a-going off like that with noth- 
ing on your bare neck, are you ? " 

"It's a hot evening," protested Rilla. "But I'll 
put on a scarf when we go on the water." 

" I knew of a boat load of young folks who went 
sailing on that harbour forty years ago just such a night 
as this — just exactly such a night as this," saic^ Cousin 



if 



30 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Sophia lugubriously, "and they were upset and 
drowned — every last one of them. Ah, well, I hope 
nothing like that'll happen to you tonight Do you 
ever try anything for the freckles? I used to find 
plain tain juice real good." 

" You certainly should be a judge of freckles, Cousin 
Sophia," said Susan, rushing to Rilla's defence. 
" You were more speckled than any toad when you was 
a girl. Rilla's only come in summer but yours stayed 
put, season in and season out; and you had not a 
ground color like hers behind them neither. You look 
real nice, Rilla, and that way of fixing your hair is be- 
coming. But you are not going to walk to the harbour 
in those slippers, are you ? " 

'* Oh, no. We'll all wear our old shoes to the har- 
bour and carry our slippers. Do you like my dress, 
Susan ? " 

*' It minds me of a dress I wore when I was a girl," 
sighed Cousin Sophia before Susan could reply. " It 
was green with pink posies in it, too, and it was 
flounced from the waist to the hem. We didn't wear 
the skimpy things girls wear nowadays. Ah me, times 
has changed and not for the better I'm afraid. I tore 
a big hole in it that night and some one spilled a cup of 
tea all over it. Ruined it completely. But I hope 
nothing will happen to your dress. It orter to be a bit 
longer I'm thinking — your legs are so terrible long 
and thin." 

*' Mrs. Dr. Blythe does not approve of little girls 
dressing like grown-up ones," said Susan stiffly, in- 
tending merely a snub to Cousin Sophia. But Rilla 
felt insulted. A little girl indeed! She whisked out 
of the kitchen in high dudgeon. Another time she 



MOONLIT MIRTH 31 

wouldn't go down to show herself off to Susan — 
Susan, who thought nobody was grown up until she 
was sixty ! And that horrid Cousin Sophia with her 
digs about freckles and legs! What business had an 
old — an old beanpole like that to talk of anybody 
else being long and thin ? Rilla felt all her pleasure in 
herself and her evening clouded and spoiled. The 
very teeth of her soul were set on edge and she could 
have sat down and cried. 

But later on her spirits rose again when she found 
herself one of the gay crowd bound for the Four 
Winds light. 

The Blythes left Ingleside to the melancholy music 
of howls from Dog Monday, who was locked up in the 
bam lest he make an uninvited guest at the light. 
They picked up the Merediths in the village, and others 
joined them as they walked down the old harbour road. 
Mary Vance, resplendent in blue crepe, with lace over- 
dress, came out of Miss Cornelia's gate and attached 
herself to Rilla and Miss Oliver who were walking to- 
gether and who did not welcome her over-warmly. 
Rilla was not very fond of Mary Vance. She had 
never forgotten the humiliating day when Mary had 
chased her through the village with a dried codfish. 
Mary Vance, to tell the truth, was not exactly popular 
with any of her set. Still, they enjoyed her society — 
she had such a biting tongue that it was stimulating. 
" Mary Vance is a habit of ours — we can't do with- 
out her even when we are furious with her," Di Blythe 
had once said. 

Most of the little crowd were paired off after a 
fashion. Jem walked with Faith Meredith, of course, 
and Jerry Meredith with Nan Blythe. Di and Walter 



32 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

were together, deep in confidential conversation which 
Rilla envied. 

Carl Meredith was walking with Miranda Pryor, 
more to torment Joe Milgrave than for any other rea- 
son. Joe was known to have a strong hankering for 
the said Miranda, which shyness prevented him from 
indulging on all occasions. Joe might summon enough 
courage to amble up beside Miranda if the night were 
dark, but here, in this moonlit dusk, he simply could 
not do it. So he trailed along after the procession and 
thought things not lawful to be uttered of Carl Mere- 
dith. Miranda was the daughter of Whiskers-on-the- 
moon ; she did not share her father's unpopularity but 
she was not much run after, being a pale, neutral little 
creature, somewhat addicted to nervous giggling. She 
had silvery blonde haif and her eyes were big china 
blue orbs that looked as if she had been badly fright- 
ened when she was little and had never got over it. 
She would much rather have walked with Joe than 
with Carl, with whom she did not feel in the least at 
home. Yet it was something of an honour, too, to have 
a college boy beside her, and a son of the manse at 
that. 

Shirley Blythe was with Una Meredith and both 
were rather silent because such was their nature. 
Shirley was a lad of sixteen, sedate, sensible, thought- 
ful, full of a quiet humour. He was Susan's " little 
brown boy " yet, with his brown hair, brown eyes and 
clear brown skin. He liked to walk with Una Mere- 
dith because she never tried to make him talk or 
badgered him with chatter. Una was as sweet and 
shy as she had been in the Rainbow Valley days, and 
her large, dark-blue eyes were as dreamy and wistful. 



MOONLIT MIRTH 33 

She had a secret, carefully-hidden fancy for Walter 
BIythe which nobody but Rilla.ever suspected. Rilla 
sympathized with it and wished Walter would return 
it. She liked Una better than Faith, whose beauty 
and aplomb rather overshadowed other gfirls — and 
Rilla did not enjoy being overshadowed. 

But just now she was very happy. It was so de- 
lightful to be tripping with her friends down that dark, 
gleaming road sprinkled with its little spruces and firs, 
whose balsam made all the air resinous around them. 
Meadows of sunset afterlight were behind the west- 
ering hills. Before them was the shining harbour. A 
bell was ringing in the little church over-harbour and 
the lingering dream-notes died arqund the dim, ame- 
thystine points. The gulf beyond was still silvery 
blue in the afterlight. Oh, it was all glorious — the 
clear air with its salt tang, the balsam of the firs, the 
laughter of her friends. Rilla loved life — its bloom 
and brilliance; she loved the ripple of music, the hum 
of merry conversation; she wanted to walk on forever 
over this road of silver and shadow. It was her first 
party and she was going to have a splendid time. 
There was nothing in the world to worry about -^ not 
even freckles and over-long legs — nothing except one 
little haunting fear that nobody would ask her to dance. 
It was beautiful and satisfying just to be alive — to be 
fifteen — to be pretty. Rilla drew a long breath of 
rapture — and caught it midway rather sharply. Jem 
was telling some story to Faith — something that had 
happened in the Balkan war. 

" The doctor lost both his legs — they were smashed 
to pulp — and he was left on the field to die. And he 
crawled about from man to man, of all the wounded 



34 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

men around him, as long as he could, and did every- 
thing possible to relieve their sufferings — never 
thinking of himself — he was tying a bit of bandage 
around another man's leg when he went under. They 
found them there, the doctor's dead hands still held the 
bandage tight, the bleeding was stopped and the other 
man's life was saved. Some hero, wasn't he. Faith? 
I tell you when I read that — " 

Jem and Faith moved on out of hearing. Gertrude 
Oliver suddenly shivered. Rilla pressed her arm 
sympathetically. 

" Wasn't it dreadful, Miss Oliver? I don't wonder 
it made you shiver. I don't know why Jem tells such 
gruesome things at a time like this when we're all out 
for fun." 

"Do you think it dreadful, RiUa? I thought it 
wonderful — beautiful. Such a story makes one 
ashamed of ever doubting human nature. That man's 
action was god-like. And how humanity responds to 
the ideal of self-sacrifice! As for my shiver, I don't 
know what caused it. The evening is certainly warm 
enough. Perhaps some one is walking over the dark, 
starshiny spot that is to be my grave. That is the ex- 
planation the old superstition would give. Well, I 
won't think of that on this lovely night. Do you know, 
Rilla, that when night-time comes I'm always glad I 
live in the country. We know the real charm of night 
here as town dwellers never do. Every night is beau- 
tiful in the country — even the stormy ones. I love a 
wild night storm on this old gulf shore. As for a 
night like this, it is almost too beautiful — it belongs 
to youth and dreamland and I'm half afraid of it." 

" I feel as if I were part of it," said Rilla. 



MOONLIT MIRTH 35 

*' Ah yes, you're young enough not to be afraid of 
perfect things. Well, here we are at the House of 
Dreamsw It seems lonely this summer. The Fords 
didn't come ? ** 

" No — at least Mr. and Mrs. Ford and Persis 
didn't. Kenneth did — but he stayed with his 
mother's people over-harbour. We haven't seen a 
great deal of him this summer. He's a little lame, so 
didn't go about very much." 

"Lame? What happened to him?" 

" He broke his ankle in a football game last fall and 
was laid up most of the winter. He has limped a lit- 
tle ever since but it is getting better all the time and he 
expects it will be all right before long. He has been 
up to Ingleside only twice." 

" Ethel Reese is simply crazy about him," said Mary 
Vance. " She hasn't got the sense she was bom with 
where he is concerned. He walked home with her 
from the over-harbour church last prayer meeting night 
and the airs she has put on since would really make you 
weary of life. As if a Toronto boy like Ken Ford 
would ever really think of a country girl like Ethel ! " 

Rilla flushed. It did not matter to her if Kenneth 
Ford walked home with Ethel Reese a dozen times — it 
did not! Nothing that he did mattered to her. He 
was ages older than she was. He chummed with Nan 
and Di and Faith, and looked upon her, Rilla, as a 
child whom he never noticed except to tease. And 
she detested Ethel Reese and Ethel Reese hated her, 
— always had hated her since Walter had pummelled 
Dan so notoriously in Rainbow Valley days ; but why 
need she be thought beneath Kenneth Ford's notice be- 
cause she was a country girl, pray? As for Mary 



36 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Vance, she was getting to be an out-and-out gossip 
and thought of nothing but who walked home with 
people ! 

There was a little pier on the harbour shore below 
the House of Dreams, and two boats were moored 
there. One boat was skippered by Jem Blythe, the 
other by Joe Milgrave, who knew all about boats and 
was nothing loth to let Miranda Pryor see it. They 
raced down the harbour and Joe's boat won. More 
boats were coming down from the Harbour Head and 
across the harbour from the western side. Every- 
where there was laughter. The big white tower on 
Four Winds Point was overflowing with light, while 
its revolving beacon flashed overhead. A family from 
Charlottetown, relatives of the light^s keeper, were 
summering at the light, and they were giving the party 
to which all the young people of Four Winds and Glen 
St. Mary and over-harbour had been invited. As 
Jim's boat swung in below the lighthouse Rilla desper- 
ately snatched off her shoes and donned her silver slip- 
pers behind Miss Oliver's screetiing back. A glance 
had told her that the rock-cut steps climbing up to the 
light were lined with boys, and lighted by Chinese lan- 
terns, and she was determined she would not walk up 
those steps in the heavy shoes her mother had insisted 
on her wearing for the road. The slippers pinched 
abominably, but nobody would have suspected it as 
Rilla tripped smilingly up the steps, her soft dark eyes 
glowing and questioning, hef color deepening richly 
on her round, creamy cheeks. The very minute she 
reached the top of the steps an over-harbour boy asked 
her to dance and the next moment they were in the 
pavilion that had been built seaward of the lighthouse 



THE PIPER PIPES 37 

for dances. It was a delightful spot, roofed over with 
fir boughs and hung with lanterns. Beyond was the 
sea in a radiance that glowed and shimmered, to the 
left the moonlit crests and hollows of the sand dunes, 
to the right the rocky shore with its inky shadows and 
its crystalline coves. Rilla and her partner swung in 
among the dancers; she drew a long breath of delight; 
what witching music Ned Burr of the Upper Glen was 
coaxing from his fiddle — it was really like the magical 
pipes of the old tale which compelled all who heard 
them to dance. How cool and fresh the gulf breeze 
blew; how white and wonderful the moonlight was 
over everything! This was life — enchanting life. 
Rilla felt as if her feet and her soul both had wings. 



CHAPTER IV 
The Piper Pipes 

RILLA' S first party was a triumph — or so it 
seemed at first. She had so many partners 
that she had to split her dances. Her silver slippers 
seemed verily to dance of themselves and though they 
continued to pinch her toes and blister her heels that 
did not interfere with her enjoyment in the least. 
Ethel Reese gave her a bad ten minutes by beckoning 
her mysteriously out of the pavilion and whispering, 
with a Reese-like smirk, that her dress gaped behind 
and that there was a stain on the flounce. Rilla rushed 
miserably to the room in the lighthouse which was 



t 



V. 



38 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

fitted up for a temporary ladies' dressing room, and 
discovered that the stain was merely a tiny grass smear 
and that the gap was equally tiny where a hook had 
pulled loose. Irene Howard fastened it "up for her 
and gave her some over-sweet, condescending compli- 
ments. Rilla felt flattered by Irene's condescension. 
She was an Upper Glen girl of nineteen who seemed to 
like the society of the younger girls — spiteful friends 
said because she could queen it over them without 
rivalry. But Rilla thought Irene quite Wonderful and 
loved her for her patronage. Irene was pretty and 
stylish; she sang divinely and spent every winter in 
Charlottetown taking music lessons. She had an aunt 
in Montreal who sent her wonderful things to wear; 
she was reported to have had a sad love affair — no- 
body knew just what, but its very mystery allured. 
Rilla felt that Irene's compliments crowned her eve- 
ning. She ran gaily back to the pavilion and lingered 
for a moment in the glow of the lanterns at the en- 
trance looking at the dancers. A momentary break in 
the whirling throng gave her a glimpse of Kenneth 
Ford standing at the other side. 

Rilla's heart skipped a beat — or, if that be a physi- 
ological impossibility, she thought it did. So he was 
here, after all. She had concluded he was not coming 
— not that it mattered in the least. Would he see 
her? Would he take any notice of her? Of course, 
he wouldn't ask her to dance — that couldn't be hoped 
for. He thought her just a mere child. He had 
called her " Spider " not three weeks ago when he had 
been at Ingleside one evening. She had cried about 
it upstairs afterwards and hated him. But her heart 
skipped another beat when she saw that he was edging 



THE PIPER PIPES 39 

his way around the side of the pavilion towards her. 
Was he coming to her — was he? — was he? — yes, 
he was ! He was . looking for her — he was here be- 
side her — he was gazing down at her with some- 
thing in his dark gray eyes that Rilla had never seen 
in them. Oh, it was almost too much to bear ! And 
everything was going on as before — the dancers were 
spinning around, the boys who couldn't get partners 
were hanging about the pavilion, canoodling couples 
were sitting out on the rocks — nobody seemed to 
realize what a stupendous thing had happened. 

Kenneth was a tall lad, very good looking, with a 
certain careless grace of bearing that somehow made 
all the other boys seen stiff and awkward by contrast. 
He was reported to be awesomely clever, with the 
glamour of a faraway city and a big university hang- 
ing around him. He had also the reputation of being 
a bit of a lady-killer. But that probably accrued to 
him from his possession of a laughing, velvety voice 
which no girl could hear without a heartbeat, and a 
dangerous way of listening as if she were saying some- 
thing that he had longed all his life to hear. 

" Is this Rilla-my-Rilla ? '* he asked in a low tone. 

"Yeth," said Rilla, and immediately wished she 
could throw herself headlong down the lighthouse 
rock or otherwise vanish from a jeering world. 

Rilla had lisped in early childhood; but she had 
grown out of it pretty thoroughly. Only on occasions 
of stress and strain did the tendency re-assert itself. 
She hadn't lisped for a year; and now at this very 
moment, when she was se especially desirous of appear- 
ing grown up and sophisticated, she must go and lisp 
like a baby ! It was too mortifying ; she felt as if tears 



40 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

were going to come into her eyes ; the next minute she 
would be — blubbering — yes, just blubbering — she 
wished Kenneth would go away — she wished he had 
never come. The party was spoiled. Everything had 
turned to dust and ashes. 

And he had called her " Rilla-my-Rilla ''— not 
" Spider " or " Kid " or " Puss," as he had been used 
to call her when he took any notice whatever of her. 
She did not at all resent his using Walter's pet name 
for her; it sounded beautifully in his low caressing 
tones, with just the faintest suggestion of emphasis on 
the " my." It would have been so nice if she had not 
made a fool of herself. She dared not look up lest 
she should see laughter in his eyes. So she looked 
down ; and as her lashes were very long and dark and 
her lids very thick and creamy, the effect was quite 
charming and provocative, and Kenneth reflected that 
Rilla Bl3rthe was going to be the beauty of the Ingle- 
side girls after all. He wanted to make her look up — 
to catch again that little, demure, questioning glance. 
She wa^ the prettiest thing at the party, there was no 
doubt of that. 

What was he saying? Rilla could hardly believe 
her ears. 

" Can we have a dance ? " 

" Yes," said Rilla. She said it with such a fierce de- 
termination not to lisp that she fairly blurted the word 
out. Then she writhed in spirit again. It sounded so 
bold — so eager — as if she were fairly jumping at 
him! What would he think of her? Oh, why did 
dreadful things like this happen, just when a girl 
wanted to appear at her best ? 

Kenneth drew her in among the dancers. 



THE PIPER PIPES 41 

" I think this game ankle of mine is good for one 
hop around, at least," he said. 

"How is your ankle?" said Rilla. Oh, why 
couldn't she think of something else to say? She 
knew he was sick of inquiries about his ankle. She 
had heard him say so at Ingleside — heard him tell Di 
he was going to wear a placard on his breast announc- 
ing to all and sundry that the ankle was improving, 
etc, etc. And now she must go and ask this stale 
question again. 

Kenneth was tired of inquiries about his ankle. But 
then he had not often been asked about it by lips with 
such an adorable kissable dent just above them. Per- 
haps that was why he answered very patiently that it 
was getting on well and didn't trouble him much, if 
he didn't walk or stand too long at a time. 

" They tdl me it will be as strong as ever in time, 
but I'll have to cut football out this fall." 

They danced together and Rilla knew every girl in 
sight envied her. After the dance they went down 
the rock steps and Kenneth found a little flat and they 
rowed across the moonlit channel to the sand-shore; 
they walked on the sand till Kenneth's ankle made pro- 
test and then they sat down among the dunes. Ken- 
neth talked to her as he had talked to Nan and Di. 
Rilla, overcome with a shyness she did not understand, 
could not talk much, and thought he would think her 
frightfully stupid; but in spite of this it was all very 
wonderful — the exquisite moonlit night, the shining 
sea, the tiny little wavelets swishing on the sand, the 
cool and freakish wind of night crooning in the stiff 
grasses on the crest of the dunes, the music sounding 
faintly and sweetly over the channel. 



42 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



(t f 



A merry lilt o' moonlight for mermaiden rev- 
elry/ " quoted Kenneth softly from one of Walter's 
poems. 

And just he and she alone together in the glamour 
of sound and sight! If only her slippers didn't bite 
sol And if only she could talk cleverly like Miss 
Oliver — nay, if she could only talk as she did her- 
self to other boys! But words would not come, she 
could only listen and murmur little commonplace sen- 
tences now and again. But perhaps her dreamy eyes 
and her dented lip and her slender throat talked elo- 
quently for her. At any rate Kenneth seemed in no 
hurry to suggest going back and when they did go 
back supper was in progress. He found a seat for 
her near the window of the lighthouse kitchen and sat 
on the sill beside her while she ate her ices and cake. 
Rilla looked about her and thought how lovely her first 
pairty had been. She would never forget it. The 
room re-echoed to laughter and jest. Beautiful young 
eyes sparkled and shone. From the pavilion outside 
came the lilt of the fiddle and the rhythmic steps of the 
dancers. 

There was a little disturbance among a group of 
boys crowded about the door; a young fellow pushed 
through and halted on the threshold, looking about him 
rather sombrely. It was Jack Elliott from over-har- 
bour — a McGill medical student, a quiet chap not 
much addicted to social doings. He had been invited 
to the party but had not been expected to come since 
he had to go to Charlottetown that day and could not 
be back until late. Yet here he was — and he carried 
a folded paper in his hand. 

Gertrude Oliver looked at him from her comer and 



THE PIPER PIPES 43 

shivered again. She had enjoyed the party herself, 
after all, for she had foregathered with a Charlotte- 
town acquaintance who, being a stranger and much 
older than most of the guests, felt himself rather out 
of it, and had been glad to fall in with this clever girl 
who could talk of world doings and outside events with 
the zest and vigour of a man. In the pleasure of his 
society she had forgotten some of her misgivings of 
the day. Now they suddenly returned to her. What 
news did Jack Elliott bring ? Lines from an old poem 
flashed unbidden into her mind — " there was a sound 
of revelry by night " — " Hush ! Hark ! A deep sound 
strikes like a rising knell " — why should she think of 
that now ? Why didn't Jack Elliott speak — if he had 
an)rthing to tell ? Why did he just stand there, glow- 
ering importantly? 

" Ask him — ask him," she said feverishly to Allan 
Daly. But somebody else had already asked him. 
The room grew very silent all at once. Outside the 
fiddler had stopped for a rest and there was silence 
there too. Afar off they heard the low moan of the 
gulf — the presage of a storm already on its way up 
the Atlantic. A girl's laugh drifted up from the rocks 
and died away as if frightened out of existence by the 
sudden stillness. 

" England declared war on Germany today," said 
Jack Elliott slowly. " The news came by wire just 
as I left town." 

" God help us," whispered Gertrude Oliver under 
her breath. " My dream — my dream ! The first 
wave has broken." She looked at Allan Daly and 
tried to smile. 

" Is this Armageddon? " she asked. 



44 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" I'm afraid so/' he said gravely. 

A chorus of exclamations had arisen round them — 
light surprise and idle interest for the most part. Few 
there realized the import of the message — fewer still 
realized that it meant anything to them. Before long 
the dancing was on again and the hum of pleasure was 
as loud as ever. Gertrude and Allan Daly talked the 
news over in low, troubled tones. Walter Blythe had 
turned pale and left the room. Outside he met Jem, 
hurrying up the rock steps. 

" Have you heard the news, Jem? " 

" Yes. The Piper has come. Hurrah ! I knew 
England wouldn't leave France in the lurch. I've 
been trying to get Captain Josiah to hoist the flag but 
he says it isn't the proper caper till sunrise. Jack 
says they'll be calling for volunteers tomorrow." 

" What a fuss to make over nothing," said Mary 
Vance disdainfully as Jem dashed off. She was sit- 
ting out with Miller Douglas on a lobster trap which 
was not only an unromantic but an uncomfortable 
seat. But Mary and Miller were both supremely 
happy on it, which was the main thing. Miller Doug- 
las was a big, strapping, uncouth lad, who thought 
Mary Vance's tongue uncommonly gifted and Mary 
Vance's white eyes stars of the first magnitude; and 
neither of them had the least inkling why Jem Mere- 
dith wanted to hoist the lighthouse flag. " What does 
it matter if there's going to be a war over there in 
Europe? Fm sure it doesn't concern us." 

Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visita- 
tions of prophecy. 

" Before this war is over," he said — or something 



THE PIPER PIPES 4f 

said through his lips — "every man and woman and 
child in Canada will feel it — you, Mary, will feel it — 
feel it to your heart's core. You will weep tears of 
blood over it. The Piper has come — and he will 
pipe until every comer of the world has heard his 
awful and irresistible music. It will be years before 
the dance of death is over — years, Mary. And in 
those years millions of hearts will break." 

" Fancy now ! '* said Mary, who always said that 
when she couldn't think of anything else to say. She 
didn't know what Walter meant but she felt uncom- 
fortable. Walter Blythe was always saying odd 
things. That old Piper of his — she hadn't heard any- 
thing about him since their playdays in Rainbow Val- 
ley — and now here he was bobbing up again. She 
didn't like it, that was the long and short of it, and 
shfe wasn't going to listen to such nonsense. 

" Aren't you painting it rather strong, Walter ? *' 
asked Harvey Crawford, coming up just then. " This 
war won't last for years — it'll be over in a month or 
two. England will just wipe Germany off the map in 
no time." 

" Do you think a war for which Germany has been 
preparing for twenty years will be over in a few 
weeks?" said Walter passionately. "This isn't a 
paltry struggle in a Balkan comer, Harvey. It is a 
death grapple. Germany comes to conquer or to die. 
And do you know what will happen if she conquers? 
Canada will be a German colony." 

" Well, I guess a few things will happen before 
that/' said Harvey shrugging his shoulders. "The 
British navy would have to be licked for one ; and for 



/^ 




-46 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

another, Miller here, now, and I, we'd raise a dust, 
wouldn't we. Miller? No Germans need apply for 
this old country, eh ? " 

Harvey ran down the steps laughing. 

'*I declare, I think all you boys talk the craziest 
stuff," said Mary Vance in disgust. She got up and 
dragged Miller off to the rock shore. It didn't hap- 
pen often that they had a chance for a talk together; 
Mary was determined that this one shouldn't be 
spoiled by Walter Blythe's silly blather about Pipers 
and Germans and such like absurd things. They left 
Walter standing alone on the rock steps, looking out 
over the beauty of Four Winds with brooding eyes 
that saw it not. 

The best of the evening was over for Rilla, too. 
Ever since Jack Elliott's announcement she had sensed 
that Kenneth was no longer thinking about her. She 
felt suddenly lonely and unhappy. It was worse than 
if he had never noticed her at all. Was life like this — 
something delightful happening and then, just as you 
were revelling in it, slipping away from you? Rilla 
told herself pathetically that she felt years older than 
when she had left home that evening. Perhaps she 
did — perhaps she was. Who knows? It does not 
do to laugh at the pangs of youth. They are very ter- 
rible because youth has not yet learned that " this, toOj 
will pass away." Rilla sighed and wished she were 
home, in bed, crying into her pillow. 

" Tired ? " said Kenneth, gently but absently — oh, 
so absently. He really didn't care a bit whether she 
were tired or not, she thought. 

" Kenneth," she ventured timidly, " you don't think 
this war will matter much to us in Canada, do you ? " 



|. 



THE PIPER PIPES 47 

"Matter? Of course it will matter to the lucky 
fellows who will be able to take a hand. I won't — 
thanks to this confounded ankle. Rotten luck, I call 
it." 

" I don't see why we should fight England's battles," 
cried Rilla. " She's quite able to fight them herself.'* 

" That isn't the point. We are part of the British 
Empire. It's a family affair. We've got to stand by 
each other. The worst of it is, it will all be over be- 
fore I can be of any use." 

" Do you mean that you would really volunteer to 
go if it wasn't for your ankle?" asked Rilla incredu- 
lously. The idea seemed so — so ridiculous. 

" Sure I would. You see they'll go by thousands. 
Jem'll be off, Til bet a cent — Walter won't be strong 
enough yet, I suppose. And Jerry Meredith — he'll 
go ! Oh, boys ! And I was worrying about being out 
of football this year ! " 

Rilla was too startled to say anything. Jem — and 
Jerry! Nonsense! Why father* and Mr. Meredith 
wouldn't allow it. They weren't through college. 
Oh, why hadn't Jack Elliott kept his horrid news to 
himself? 

Mark Warren came up and asked her to dance. 
Rilla went, knowing Kenneth didn't care whether she 
went or stayed. An hour ago on the sandshore he had 
been looking at her as if she -were the only being of 
any importance in the world. And now she was no- 
body. His thoughts were full of this Great Game 
which was to be played out on blood-stained fields with 
empires for stakes — a Game in which womenkind 
could have no part. Women, thought Rilla miserably, 
just had to sit and cry at home. But all this was 



i 



48 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

foolishness. Kenneth couldn't go — he admitted that 
himself — and Walter couldn't — thank goodness for 
that — and Jem and Jerry would have more sense. 
She wouldn't worry — she would enjoy herself. But 
how awkward Mark Warren was! How he bungled 
his steps! Why, for mercy's sake, did boys try to 
dance who didn't know the first thing about dancing; 
and who had feet as big as boats? There, he had 
bumped her into somebody! She would never dance 
with him again. 

But she danced with others, though the zest was 
gone out of the performance and she had begun to 
realize that her slippers hurt her badly. Kenneth 
seemed to have gone — at least nothing was to be seen 
of him. After all, her first party was spoiled, though 
it had seemed so beautiful at one time. Her head 
ached — her toes burned. And worse was yet to 
come. She had gone down with some over-harbour 
friends to the rock shore where they all lingered as 
dance after dance went on above them. It was cool 
and pleasant and they were tired. Rilla s^t silent, 
taking no part in the gay conversation. She was glad 
when some one called down that the over-harbour 
boats were leaving. A laughing scramble up the light- 
house rock followed. A few couples still whirled 
about in the pavilion but the crowd had thinned out. 
Rilla looked about her for the Glen group. She could 
not see one of them. She ran into the lighthouse. 
Still, no sign of anybody. In dismay she ran to the 
rock steps, down which the over-harbour guests were 
hurrying. She could see the boats below — where 
was Jem's — where was Joe's? 

"Why, Rilla Blythe, I thought you'd gone home long 






THE PIPER PIPES 49 

ago/' said Mary Vance, who was waving her scarf at 
a boat skimming up the channel, skippered by Miller 
Douglas. 

Where are the rest? " gasped Rilla. 
Why, they're gone — Jem went an hour ago — 
Una had a headache. And the rest went with Joe 
about fifteen minutes ago. See — they're just going 
round Birch Point. I didn't go because it's getting 
rough and I knew I'd be seasick. I don't mind walk- 
ing home from here. It's onl/ a mile and a half. I 
s'posed you'd gone. Where were you?'* 

" Down on the rocks with Jen and Mollie Crawford. 
Oh, why didn't they look for me ? " 

" They did — but you couldn't be found. Then 
they concluded you must have gone in the other boat. 
Don't worry* You can stay all night with me and we'll 
'phone up to Ingleside where you are." 

Rilla realized that there was nothing else to do. 
H!er lips trembled and tears came into her eyes. She 
blinked savagely — she would not let Mary Vance see 
her crying. But to be forgotten like this ! To think 
nobody had thought it worth while to make sure where 
she was — not even Walter. Then she had a sudden 
dismayed recollection. 

" My shoes," she exclaimed. " I left them in the 
boat." 

" Well, I never," said Mary. " You're the most 
thoughtless kid / ever saw. You'll have to ask Hazel 
Lewison to lend you a pair of shoes." 

" I won't," cried Rilla, who didn't like the said 
Hazel. " ril gt) barefoot first." 

Mary shrugged her shoulders. 

"Just as you like. Pride must suffer pain. It'll 



so RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

teach you to be more careful. Well, let's hike." 
Accordingly they hiked. But to " hike " along a 
deep-rutted, pebbly lane, in frail, silver-hued slippers 
with high French heels, is not an exhilarating perform- 
ance. Rilla managed to limp and totter along until 
they reached the harbour road; but she could go no 
further in those detestable slippers. The pain simply 
could not be borne. She took them and her dear silk 
stockings off and started bai;efoot. That was not 
pleasant either; her feet were very tender and the 
pebbles and ruts of the road hurt them. Her blistered 
heels smarted. But physical pain was almost forgot- 
ten in the sting of her humiliation. This was a nice 
predicament! If Kenneth Ford could see her now, 
limping along like a little girl with a stone bruise! 
Oh, what a horrid way for her lovely party to end! 
She just had to cry — it was too terrible. Nobody 
caired for her — nobody bothered about her at all. 
Well, if she caught cold from walking home barefoot 
on a dew-wet road and went into a decline perhaps they 
would be sorry. She furtively wiped her tears away 
with her scarf — handkerchiefs seemed to have van- 
ished like shoes! — but she could not help sniffling. 
Worse and worse! 

"You've got a cold, I see," said Mary. "You 
ought to have known you would, sitting down in the 
wind on those rocks. Your mother won't let you out* 
again in a hurry I can tell you. It's certainly been 
something of a party. The Lewisons know how to 
do things, I'll say that for them, though Hazel Lewi- 
son is no choice of mine. My, how black she looked 
when she saw you dancing with Ken Ford. And so 



THE PIPER PIPES 51 

did that little hussy of an Ethel Reese. What a flirt 
he is ! " 

'' I don't think he's a flirt," said Rilla as defiantly 
as two desperate sniffs would let her. 

" Oh well, you'll know more about men when you're 
as old as I am," said Mary patronizingly. "Mind 
you, it doesn't do to believe all they tell you. Don't 
let Ken Ford think that all he has to do to get you 
on the string is to drop his handkerchief. Have more 
spirit than that, child." 

To be thus hectored and patronized by Mary Vance 
was unendurable ! And it was unendurable to walk on 
stony roads with blistered heels and bare feet! And 
it was unendurable to be crying and have no handker- 
chief and not to be able to stop crying! 

" I'm not thinking "— sniff — " about Kenneth "— 
sniff — " Ford " — two sniffs — " at all," cried tortured 
Rilla. 

" There's no need to fly off the handle, child. You 
ought to be willing to take advice from older people. 
/ saw how you slipped over to the sands with Ken and 
stayed there ever so long with him. Your mother 
wouldn't like it if she knew." 

" I'll tell my mother all about it — and Miss Oliver 
— and Walter," Rilla gasped between sniffs. " You 
sat for hours with Miller Douglas on that lobster trap, 
Mary Vance! What would Mrs. Elliott say to that 
if she knew?" 

" Oh, I'm not going to quarrel with you," said Mary, 
suddenly retreating to high and lofty ground. " All / 
say is, you should wait until you're grown up before 
you do things like that." 



52 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Rilla gave up trying to hide the fact that she was 
crying. Everything was spoiled — even that beauti- 
ful, dreamy, romantic, moonlit hour with Kenneth on 
the sands was vulgarized and cheapened. She loathed 
Mary Vance. 

" Why, whatever's wrong ? " cried mystified Mary. 
" What are you crying for ? " 

" My feet — hurt so — " sobbed Rilla, clinging to 
the last shred of her pride. It was less humiliating 
to admit crying because of your feet than because — 
because somebody had been amusing himself with you, 
and your friends had forgotten you, and other people 
patronized you. 

"I daresay they are," said Mary, not unkindly. 
" Never mind. I know where there's a pot of goose- 
grease in Cornelia's tidy pantry and it beats all the 
fancy cold creams in the world. Til put some on your 
heels before you go to bed." 

Goose grease on your heels ! So this was what your 
first party and your first beau and your first moonlit 
romance ended in ! 

Rilla gave over crying in sheer disgust at the futility 
of tears and went to sleep in Mary Vance's bed in the 
calm of despair. Outside, the dawn came greyly in 
on wings of storm; Captain Josiah, true to his word, 
ran up the Union Jack at the Four Winds Light and it 
streamed on the fierce wind against the clouded sky 
like a gallant unquenchable beacon. 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING" 53 



€( 



CHAPTER V 



The Sound of a Going'* 



RILLA ran down through the sunlit glory of the 
maple grove behind Ingleside, to her favourite 
nook in Rainbow Valley. She sat down on a green- 
mossed stone among the fern, propped her chin on 
her hands and stared unseeingly at the dazzling blue 
sky of the August afternoon — so blue, so peaceful, 
so unchanged, just as it had arched over the valley in 
the mellow days of late summer ever since she could 
remember. 

She wanted to be alone — to think things out — to 
adjust herself, if it were possible, to the new world 
into which she seemed to have been transplanted with 
a suddenness and completeness that left her half be- 
wildered as to her own identity. Was she — could she 
be — the same Rilla Blythe who had danced at Four 
Winds light six days ago — only six days ago? It 
seemed to Rilla that she had lived as much in those 
six days as ii; all her previous life — and if it be true 
that we should count time by heart-throbs she had. 
That evening, with its hopes and fears and triumphs 
and humiliations, seemed like ancient history now. 
Could she really ever have cried just because she had 
been forgotten and had to walk home with Mary 
Vance ? Ah, thought Rilla sadly, how trivial and ab- 
surd such a cause of tears now appeared to her. She 
could cry now with a right good will — but she would 
not — she must not. What was it mother had said. 



54 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

looking, with her white lips and stricken eyes, as Rilla 
had never seen her mother look before, 

"'When our women fail in courage, 
Shall our men be fearless still ? ' " 

Yes, that was it. She must be brave — like mother 

— and Nan — and Faith — Faith, who had cried with 
flashing eyes, " Oh, if I were only a man, to go too ! " 
Only, when her eyes ached and her throat burned like 
this she had to hide herself in Rainbow Valley for a 
little, just to think things out and remember that she 
wasn't a child any longer — she was grown-up and 
women had to face things like this. But it was — nice 

— to get away alone now and then, where nobody 
could see her and where she needn't feel that people 
thought her a little coward if some tears came in spite 
of her. 

How sweet and woodsey the ferns smelled! How 
softly the great feathery boughs of the firs waved and 
murmured over her ! How elfinly rang the bells on the 
" Tree Lovers " — just a tinkle now and then as the 
breeze swept by! How purple and elusive the haze 
where incense was being offered on many an altar of 
the hills ! How the maple leaves whitened in the wind 
until the grove seemed covered with pale silvery blos- 
soms ! Everything was just the same as she had seen 
it hundreds of times; and yet the whole face of the 
world seemed changed. 

" How wicked I was to wish that something dra- 
matic would happen ! " she thought. " Oh, if we could 
only have those dear, monotonous, pleasant days back 
again! I would never, never grumble about them 
again." 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING" ss 

Rilla's world had tumbled to pieces the very day 
after the party. As they lingered around the dinner 
table at Ingleside, talking of the war, the telephone 
had rung. It was a long distance call from Qiarlotte- 
town for Jem. When he had finished talking he hung 
up the receiver and turned around, with a flushed face 
and glowing eyes. Before he had said a word his 
mother and Nan and Di had turned pale. As for 
Rilla, for the first time in her life she felt that every 
one must hear her heart beating and that something 
had clutched at her throat. 

" They are calling for volunteers in town, father," 
said Jem. " Scores have joined up already. I'm 
going in tonight to enlist." 

"Oh — Little Jem," cried Mrs. Blythe brokenly. 
She had not called him that for many years ^ — not 
since the day he had rebelled against it " Oh — no — 
no — Little Jem." 

" I must, mother. I'm right — am I not, father ? " 
said Jem. 

Dr. Blythe had risen. He was very pale, too, and 
his voice was husky. But he did not hesitate. 

" Yes, Jem, yes — if you feel that way, yes^^ — " 

Mrs. Blythe covered her face. Walter stared mood- 
ily at his plate. Nan and Di clasped each others hands. 
Shirley tried to look unconcerned. Susan sat as if 
paralysed, her piece of pie half-eaten on her plate. 
Susai^ never did finish that piece of pie — a fact which 
bore eloquent testimony to the upheaval in her inner 
woman for Susan considered it a cardinal offence 
against civilized society to begin to eat an)rthing and 
not finish it. That was wilful waste, hens to the con- 
trary notwithstanding. 



56 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Jem turned to the 'phone again. " I must ring the 
manse. Jerry will want to go, too.*' 

At this Nan had cried out " Oh! " as if a knife had 
been thrust into her, and rushed from the room. Di 
followed her. Rilla turned to Walter for comfort but 
Walter was lost to her in some reverie sjie could not 
share. 

" All right," Jem was saying, as coolly as if he were 
arranging the details of a picnic. " I thought you 
would — yes, tonight — the seven o'clock — meet me 
at the station. So long." 

" Mrs. Dr. dear," said poor Susan, pushing away 
her pie. " I wish you would wake me up. Am I 
dreaming — or am I awake? Does that blessed boy 
realize what he is saying? Does j he mean that he is 
going to enlist as a soldier? You do not mean to tell 
me that they want children like him! It is an out- 
rage. Surely you and the doctor will not permit it." 

" We can't stop him," said Mrs. Blythe, chokingly. 
"Oh, Gilbert!" 

Dr. Blythe came up behind his wife and took her 
hand gently, looking down into the sweet grey eyes 
which he had only once before seen filled with such 
imploring anguish as now. They both thought of 
that other time — the day years ago in the House of 
Dreams when little Joyce had died. 

"Would you have him stay, Anne — when the 
others are going — when he thinks it his duty — would 
you have him so selfish and small-souled ? " 

"No — no! But — oh — our first bom son — 
he's only a lad — Gilbert — I'll try to be brave after 
awhile — just now I can't. It's all come so suddenly. 
Give me time." 






"THE SOUND OF A GOING" 57 

The doctor and his wife went out of the room. Jem 
had gone — Walter had gone — Shirley got up to go. 
Rilla and Susan remained staring at each other across 
the deserted table. Rilla had not yet cried — she was 
too stunned for tears. Then she saw that Susan was 
crying — Susan, whom she had never seen shed a tear 
before. 

Oh, Susan, will, he really go? '* she asked. 
It — it — it is just ridiculous, that is what it is," 
said Susan. 

She wiped away her t^rs, gulped resolutely and got 
up. 

" I am going to wash the dishes. That has to be 
done, even if everybody has gone crazy. There now, 
dearie, do not you cry. Jem will go, most likely — 
but the war will be over long before he gets anywhere 
near it Let us take a brace and not worry your poor 
mother." | 

" In the Enterprisie today it was reported that Lord 
Kitchener says the war will last three years," said 
Rilla dubiously- 

" I am not acquainted with Lord Kitchener," said 
Susan, composedly, " but I daresay he makes mistakes 
as often as other people. Your father says it will be 
over in a fey months and I have as much faith in his 
opinion as I have in Lord Anybody's. So just let us 
be calm and trust in the Almighty and get this place 
tidied up/ I am done with crying which is a waste of 
time and discourages everybody." 

Jen> and Jerry went to Charlottetown that night and 
two days later they came back in khaki. The Glen 
hummed with excitement over it. Life at Ingleside 
had suddenly become a tense, strained, thrilling thing. 



58 RTLLA OF INGLESmE 

Mrs. BIythc and Nan were brave and smiling and 
wonderful. Already Mrs. Blythe and Miss Cornelia 
were organizing a Red Cross. The Doctor and Mr. 
Meredith were rounding up the men for a Patriotic 
Society. Rilla, after the first shock, reacted to the 
romance of it all, in spite of her heartache. Jem cer- 
tainly looked magnificent in his uniform. It was 
splendid to think of the lads of Canada answering so 
speedily and fearlessly and uncalculatingly to the call 
of their country. Rilla carried her head high among 
the girls whose brothers had not so responded. In 
her diary she wrote. 



« i 



He goes to do what I had done 

Had Douglas' daughter been his son/ " 

and was sure she meant it. If she were a boy of 
course she would go, too ! She hadn't the least doubt 
of that. 

She wondered if it was very dreadful of her to feel 
glad that Walter hadn't got strong as soon as they 
had wished after the fever. 

''^I couldn't bear to have Walter go,"^she wrote. 
" I love Jem ever so much but Walter means more to 
me than any one in the world and I would die if he 
had to go. He seems so changed these days. He 
hardly ever talks^, to me. I suppose he wants to go, 
too, and feels badly because he can't. He doesn't go 
about with Jeni and Jerry at all. I shall never forget 
Susan's face when Jem came home in his khaki. It 
worked and twisted as if she were going to cry, but all 
she said was, *You look almost like a man in that, 
Jem.' Jem laughed. He never minds because Susan 
thinks him 'just a child .still. Everybody seems busy 



I 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING'' 59 

but me. I wish there was something I could do but 
there doesn't seem to be anything. Motherland Nan 
and Di are busy all the time and I just wander about 
like a lonely ghost. What hurts me terribly, though, is 
that mother's smiles, and Nan's, just seem put on from 
the outside. 'Mother's eyes never laugh now. It 
makes me feel that I shouldn't laugh either — that it's 
wicked to feel laughy. And it's so hard for me to 
keep from laughing, even if Jem is going to be a sol- 
dier. But when I laugh I don't enjoy it either, as I 
used to do. There's something behind it all that keeps 
hurting me — especially when I wake up in the night. 
Then I cry because I am afraid that Kitchener of 
Khartoum is right and the war will last for years and 
Jem may be — but no, I won't write it. It would 
make me feel as if it were really going to happen. 
The other day Nan said, * Nothing can ever be quite 
the same for any of us again.* It made me feel re- 
bellious. Why shouldn't things be the same again — 
when everything is over and Jem and Jerry are back? 
We'll all be happy and jolly again and these days will 
seem just like a bad dream. 

" The coming of the mail is the most exciting event 
of every day now. Father just snatches the paper — 
I never saw father snatch before — and the rest of 
us crowd around and look at the headlines over his 
shoulder. Susan vows she does not and will not be- 
lieve a word the papers say but she always comes to 
the kitchen door, and listens and then goes back, shak- 
ing her head. She is terribly indignant all. the time, 
but she cooks up all the things Jem likes especially, and 
she did not make a single bit of fuss when she found 
Monday asleep on the spare room bed yesterday right 



6o RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

on top of Mrs. Rachel Lynde's apple-leaf spread. 
* The Almighty only knows where your master will be 
having to sleep before long, you poor dumb beast/ she 
said as she put him quite gently out. But she never 
relents towards Doc. She says the minute he saw 
Jem in khaki he turned into Mr. Hyde then and there 
and she thinks that ought to be proof enough of what 
he really is, Susan is funny, but she is an old dear. 
Shirley says she is one half angel and the other half 
good cook. But then Shirley is the only one of us 
she never scolds. 

*' Faith Meredith is wonderful. I think she and 
Jem are really engaged now. She goes about with a 
shining light in her eyes, but her smiles are a little 
stiff and starched, just like mother's. I wonder if / 
could be as brave as she is if I had a lover and he was 
going to the war. It is bad enough when it is your 
brother. Bruce Meredith cried all night, Mrs. Mere- 
dith says, when he heard Jem and Jerry were going. 
And he wanted to know if the ' K. of K.' his father 
talked about was the King of Kings. He is the dear- 
est kiddy. I just love him — though I don't really 
care much for children. I don't like babies one bit — 
though when I say so people look at me as if I had 
said something perfectly shocking. Well, I don't, and 
I've got to be honest about it. I don't mind looking at 
a nice clean baby if somebody else holds it — but I 
wouldn't touch it for anything and I don't feel a single 
real spark of interest- in it. Gertrude Oliver says she 
just feels the same. (She is the most honest person I 
know. She never pretends anything.) She says 
babies bore her until they are old enough to talk and 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING" 61 

then she likes them — but still a good ways off. 
Mother and Nan and Di all adore babies and seem to 
think I'm unnatural because I don't. 

" I haven't seen Kenneth since the night of the 
party. He was here one evening after Jem came back 
but I happened to be away. I don't think he men- 
tioned me at all — at least nobody told me he did and 
I was determined I wouldn't ask — but I don't care in 
the least* All that matters absolutely nothing to me 
now. The only thing that does matter is that Jem has 
volunteered for active service and will be going to 
Valcartier in a few more days — my big, splendid 
brother Jem. Oh, I'm so proud of him ! 

'* I suppose Kenneth would enlist too if it weren't 
for his ankle. I think that is quite Providential. He 
is his mother's only son and how dreadful she would 
feel if he went. Only sons should never think of 
going • " , 

Walter came wandering through the valley as Rilla 
sat there, with his head bent and his hands clasped be- 
hind him. When he saw Rilla he turned abruptly 
away ; then as abruptly he turned and came back to her. 
Rilla-my-Rilla, what are you thinking of?" 
Everything is so changed, Walter," said Rilla wist- 
fully. " Even you — you're changed. A week ago 
we were all so happy — and — and — now I just can't 
find myself at all. I'm lost." 

Walter sat down on a neighbouring stone and took 
Rilla's little appealing hand. 

" I'm afraid our old world has come to an end, 
Rilla. We've got to face that fact." 

** It's so terrible to think of Jem," pleaded Rilla. 



it 
it 



62 RILLA OF INGLESIPE 

" Sometimes I forgot for a little while what it really 
means and feel excited and proud — and then it comes 
over me again like a cold wind." 

" I envy Jem," said Walter moodily. 

"Envy Jem! Oh, Walter, you — you don't want 
to go too." 

"No," said Walter, gazing straight before him 
down the emerald vistas of the valley, "no, I don't 
want to go. That's just the trouble. Rilla, I'm 
afraid to go. I'm a coward." 

"You're not!" Rilla burst out angrily. "Why, 
anybody would be afraid to go. You might be — 
why, you might be killed." 

" I wouldn't mind that if it didn't hurt," muttered 
Walter. " I don't think Fm afraid of death itself — 
it's of the pain that might come before death — it 
wouldn't be so bad to die and have it over — but to 
keep on dying! Rilla, I've always been afraid of pain 
— you know that. I can't help it — I shudder when I 
think of the possibility of being mangled or — or 
blinded, Rilla, I cannot face that thought. To be 
blind — never to see the beauty of the world again — 
moonlight on Four Winds — the stars twinkling 
through the fir trees — mist on the gulf. I ought to 
go — I ought to want to go — but I dont — I hate 
the thought of it — and I'm ashamed — ashamed." 

" But, Walter, you couldn't go anyhow," said Rilla 
piteously. She was sick with a new terror that Walter 
would go after all. " You're not strong enttugh," 

" I am. I've felt as fit as ever I did this'Iast month. 
I'd pass any examination — I know it. ^Everybody 
thinks I'm not strong yet — and I'm skulking be- 
hind that belief. I — I should have been a girl," 



'THE, SOUND OF A GOING*' 63 

Walter concluded in a burst of passionate bitterness. 

" Even if you were strong enough, you oughtn't to 
go," sobbed Rilla. " What would mother do ? She's 
breaking her heart over Jem. It would kill her to see 
you both go." 

" Oh, Tm not going — don't worry. I tell you I'm 
afraid to go — afraid. I don't mince the matter to 
myself. It's a relief to own up even to you, Rilla. I 
wouldn't confess it to anybody else — Nan and Di 
would despise me. But I hate the whole thing — the 
horror, the pain, the ugliness. War isn't a khaki uni- 
form or a drill parade — everything I've read in old 
histories haunts me. I lie awake at night and see 
things that have happened — see the blood and filth 
and misery of it all. And a bayonet charge! If I 
could face the other things I could never face that. It 
turns me sick to think of it — sicker even to think of 
giving it than receiving it — to think of thrusting a 
bayonet through another man." Walter writhed and 
shuddered. " I think of these things all the time — 
and it doesn't seem to me that Jem and Jerry ever 
think of them. They laugh and talk about ' potting 
Huns * ! But it maddens me to see them in the khaki. 
And they think I'm grumpy because Fm not fit to go." 

Walter laughed bitterly. It is not a nice thing to 
feel yourself a coward. But Rilla got her arms about 
him and cuddled her head on his shoulder. She was 
so glad he didn't want to go — for just one minute she 
had been horribly frightened. And it was so nice to 
have Walter confiding his troubles to her — to her, 
not Di. She didn't feel so lonely and superfluous any 
longer, 

" Don't you despise me, Rilla-my-Rilla ? " asked 



64 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Walter wistfully. Somehow, it hurt him to think Rilla 
might despise him — hurt him as much as if it had 
been Di. He realized suddenly how very fond he was 
of this adoring kid sister with her appealing eyes and 
troubled, girlish face. 

"No, I don't. Why, Walter, hundreds of people 
feel just as you do. You know what that verse of 
Shakespeare in the old Fifth Reader says — ' the brave 
man is not he who feels no fear.' " 

" No — but it is ' he whose noble soul its fear sub- 
dues.' I don't do that. We can't gloss it over, Rilla. 
I'm a coward." 

" You're not Think of how you fought Dan 
Reese long ago." 

" One spurt of courage isn't enough for a lifetime." 

" Walter, one time I heard father say that the trou- 
ble with you was a sensitive nature and a vivid im- 
agination. I think I know now what he meant. You 
feel things before they really come — feel them all 
alone when there isn't anything to help you bear them 
— to take away from them. I don't express that very 
well — but I know that's the trouble. It isn't any- 
thing to be ashamed of. When you and Jem got your 
hands burned when the grass was fired on the sand 
hills two years ago Jem made twice the fuss over the 
pain that you did. As for this horrid old war, there'll 
be plenty to go without you. It won't last long," 

" I wish I could believe it. Well, it's supper time, 
Rilla. You'd better run. I don't want anything." 

" Neither do I. I couldn't eat a mouthful. Let me 
stay here with you, Walter. It's such a comfort 
to talk things over with some one. The rest all 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING" 65 

think that I'm too much of a baby to understand." 
So they two sat there in the old valley until the eve- 
ning star shone through a pale-grey, gauzy cloud over 
the maple grove, and a fi'agrant dewy darkness filled 
their little sylvan dell. It was one of the evenings 
Rilla was to treasure in remembrance all her life — the 
first one on which Walter had ever talked to her as if 
she were a woman and not a child. They comforted 
and strengthened each other. Walter felt, for the 
time being at least, that it was not such a despicable 
thing after all to dread the horror of war; and Rilla 
was glad to be made the confidante of his struggles — 
to sympathize with and encourage him. She was of 
importance to somebody. 

When they went back to Ingleside they found callers 
sitting on the veranda. Mr. and Mrs. Meredith had 
come over from the manse, and Mr. and Mrs. Norman 
Douglas had come up from the farm. Cousin Sophia 
was there also,. sitting with Susan in the shadowy back- 
ground. Mrs. Blythe and Nan and Di were away, but 
Dr. Blythe was home and so was Dr. Jekyll, sitting in 
golden majesty on the top step. And of course they 
were all talking of the war, except Dr. Jekyll who kept 
his own counsel and looked contempt as only a cat can. 
When two people foregathered in those days they 
talked of the 'Nyar; and old Highland Sandy of the 
Harbour Head talked of it when he was alone and 
hurled anathemas at the Kaiser across all the acres of 
his farm. Walter slipped away, not caring to see or 
be seen, but Rilla sat down on the steps, where the 
garden mint was dewy and pungent. It was a very 
calm evening with a dim, golden afterlight irradiating 



66 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the glen. She felt happier than at any time in the 
dreadful week that had passed. She was no longer 
haunted by the fear that Walter would go. 

"I'd go myself if I was twenty years younger/' 
Norman Douglas was shouting. Norman always 
shouted when he was excited. " Td show the Kaiser 
a thing or two! Did I ever say there wasn't a hell? 
Of course there's a hell — dozens of hells — hundreds 
of hells — where the Kaiser and all his brood are 
bound for." 

" I knew this war was coming," said Mrs. Norman 
triumphantly. " I saw it coming right along. / could 
have told all those stupid Englishmen what was ahead 
of them. I told you, John Meredith, years ago what 
the Kaiser was up to but you wouldn't believe it. You 
said he would never plunge the world in war. Who 
was right about the Kaiser, John? You — or I? 
Tell me that." 

" You were, I admit," said Mr. Meredith. 

" It's too late to admit it now," said Mrs. Norman, 
shaking her head, as if to intimate that if John Mere- 
dith had admitted it sooner there might have been no 
war. 

"Thank God, England's navy i» ready," said the 
doctor. 

" Amen to that," nodded Mrs. Norman. " Bat- 
blind as most of them were somebody had foresight 
enough to see to that/' 

" Maybe England'll manage not to get into trouble 
over it," said Cousin Sophia plaintively. "/ dunno. 
But Tm much afraid." 

" One would suppose England was in trouble over it 



\ 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING" 67 

already, up to her neck, Sophia Crawford/' said Susan. 
" But your ways of thinking are beyond me and always 
were. It is my opinion that the British navy will set- 
tle Germany in a jiffy and that we are all getting 
worked up over nothing." 

Susan spat out the words as if she wanted to con- 
vince herself more than anybody else. She had her 
little store of homely philosophies to guide her through 
life, but she had nothing to buckler her against the 
thunderbolts of the week that had just passed. What 
had an honest, hard-working, Presbyterian old maid 
of Glen St. Mary to do with a war thousands of miles 
away ? Susan felt that it was indecent that she should 
have to be disturbed by it. 

" The British army will settle Germany," shouted 
Norman. "Just wait till it gets into line' and the 
Kaiser will iind that real war is a different thing from 
parading round Berlin with your moustaches cocked 
up. 

" Britain hasn't got an army,*' said Mrs. Norman 
emphatically. "You needn't glare at me, Norman. 
Glaring won't make soldiers out of timothy stalks. A 
hundred thousand men will just be a mouthful for 
Germany's millions." 

" There'll be some tough chewing in the mouthful, 
I reckon," persisted Norman valiantly. " Germany'U 
break her teeth on it. Don't you tell me one Britisher 
isn't a match for ten foreigners. I could polish off a 
dozen of 'em myself with both hands tied behind my 
back!" 

" I am told," said Susan, " that old Mr. Pryor does 
not believe in this war. I am told that he says Eng- 



68 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

land went into it just because she was jealous of Ger- 
many and that she did not really care in the least what 
happened to Belgium." 

" I believe he's been talking some such rot/* said 
Norman. ''/ haven't heard him. When I do, 
Whiskers-on-the-moon won't know what happened to 
him. That precious relative of mine, Kitty Alec, 
holds forth to the same effect, I understand. Not be- 
fore me, though — somehow, folks don't indulge in 
that kind of conversation in my presence. Lord love 
you, they've a kind of presentiment, so to speak, that 
it wouldn't be healthy for their complaint." 

" I am much afraid that this war has been sent as a 
punishment for our sins," said Cousin Sophia, unclasp- 
ing her pale hands from her lap and re-clasping them 
solemnly over her stomach. "'The world is very 
evil — the times are waxing late.' " 

" Parson here's got something of the same idea,'* 
chuckled Norman. " Haven't you, Parson ? That's 
why you preached *tother night on the text ' Without 
shedding of blood there is no remission of sins'. I 
didn't agree with you — wanted to get up in the pew 
and shout out that there wasn't a word of sense in what 
you were saying, but Ellen, here, she held me down. I 
never have any fun sassing parsons since I got mar- 
ried." 

" Without shedding of blood there is no anything^ 
said Mr. Meredith, in the gently dreamy way which 
had an unexpected trick of convincing his hearers. 
" Everything, it seems to me, has to be purchased by 
self-sacrifice. Our race has marked every step of its 
painful ascent with blood. And now torrents of it 
must flow again. No, Mrs. Crawford, I don't think 



"THE SOUND OF A GOING" 69 

the war has been sent as a punishment for sin. I think 
it is the price humanity must pay for some blessing 
— some advance great enough to be worth the price — 
which we may not live to see but which our children's 
children will inherit." 

"If Jerry is killed will you feel so fine about it?" 
demanded Norman, who had been saying things like 
that all his Hfe and never could be made to see any 
reason why he shouldn't. " Now, never mind kicking 
me in the shins, Ellen. I want to see i f Parson meant 
what he said or if it was just a pulpit frill." 

Mr. Meredith's face quivered. He had had a ter- 
rible hour alone in his study on the night Jem and 
Jerry had gone to town. But he answered quietly. 

" Whatever I felt, it could not alter my belief — my 
assurance that a country whose sons are ready to lay 
down their lives in her defence will win a new vision 
because of their sacrifice." 

" You do mean it, Parson. I can always tell when 
people mean what they say. It's a gift that was born 
in me. Makes me a terror to most parsons, that ! But 
I've never caught you yet saying anything you didn't 
mean. I'm always hoping I will — that's what recon- 
ciles me to going to church. It'd be such a comfort to 
me — such a weapon to batter Ellen here with when 
she tries to civilize me. Well, I'm off over the road to 
see Ab. Crawford a minute. The gods be good to you 
aU." 

" The old pagan ! " muttered Susan, as Norman 
strode away. She did not care if Ellen Douglas did 
hear her. Susan could never understand why fire 
did not descend from heaven upon Norman Douglas 
when he insulted ministers the way he did. But the 



70 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

astonishing thing was Mr. Meredith seemed really to 
like his brother-in-law. 

Rilla wished they would talk of something besides 
war. She had heard nothing else for a week and she 
was really a little tired of it. Now that she was re- 
lieved from her haunting fear that Walter would want 
to go it made her quite impatient. But she supposed 
— with a sigh — that there would be three or four 
months of it yet. 



CHAPTER VI 

Susan, Rilla, and Dog Monday Make a 

Resolution 

THE big living room at Ingleside was snowed over 
with drifts of white cotton. Word had come 
from Red Cross headquarters that sheets and bandages 
would be required. Nan and Di and Rilla were hard 
at work. Mrs. Blythe and Susan were upstairs in the 
boys' room, engaged in a more personal task. With 
dry, anguished eyes they were packing up Jem's ber 
longings. He must leave for Valcartier the next 
morning. They had been expecting the word but it 
was none the less dreadful when it came. 

Rilla was basting the hem of a sheet for the first 
time in her life. When the word had come that Jem 
must ^go she had her cry out among the pines in Rain- 
bow Valley and then she had gone to her mother. 

" Mother, I want to do something. I'm only a girl 



it 



SUSAN, RILLA, AND DOG MONDAY 71 

— I can't do anything to win the war — but I must do 
something to help at home." 

" The cotton has come up for the sheets/' said Mrs. 
Blythe. " You can help Nan and Di make them up. 
And, Rilla, don't you think you could organize a 
Junior Red Cross among the young girls? I think 
they would like it better and do better work by them- 
selves than if mixed up with the older people." 

But, mother — I've never done anything like that.'* 

We will all have to do a great many things in the 

months ahead of us that we have never done before, 

Rilla." 

" Well "— Rilla took the plunge — " I'll try, mother 

— if you'll tell me how to begin. I have been think- 
ing it all over and I have decided that I must be as 
brave and heroic and unselfish as I can possibly be." 

Mrs. Blythe did not smile at Rilla's italics. Per- 
haps she did not feel like smiling or perhaps she de- 
tected a real grain of serious purpose behind Rilla's 
romantic pose. So here was Rilla hemming sheets and 
organizing a Junior Red Cross in her thoughts as she 
hemmed; moreover, she was enjoying it — the organ- 
izing that is, not the hemming. It was interesting and 
Rilla discovered a certain aptitude in herself for it that 
surprised her. Who would be president? Not she. 
The older girls would not like that. Irene Howard? 
No, somehow Irene was not quite as popular as she de- 
served to be. Marjorie Drew ? No, Marjorie hadn't 
enough backbone. She was too prone to agree with 
the last speaker. Betty Mead — calm, capable, tact- 
ful Betty — the very one! And Una Meredith for 
treasurer; and, if they were very insistent, they might 
make her, Rilla, secretary. As for the various com- 



72 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

mittees, they must be chosen after the Juniors were or- 
ganized, but Rilla knew just who should be put on 
which. They would meet around ^ — and there must 
be no eats — Rilla knew she would have a pitched bat- 
tle with Olive Kirk over that — and everything should 
be strictly business-like and constitutional. Her min- 
ute book should be covered in white with a Red Cross 
on the cover — and wouldn't it be nice to have some 
kind of uniform which they could all wear at the con- 
certs they would have to get up to raise money — 
something simple but smart? 

" You have basted the top hem of that sheet on one 
side and the bottom hem on the other," said Di. 

Rilla picked out her stitches and reflected that she 
hated sewing. Running the Junior Reds would be 
much more interesting. 

Mrs. Blythe was saying upstairs, 

" Susan, do you remember that first day Jem lifted 
up his little arms to me and called me * mo'er ' — the 
very first word he ever tried to say ? " 

" You could not mention anything about that blessed 
baby that I do not and will not remember till my dying 
day," said Susan drearily. 

" Susan, I keep thinking today of one night when 
he cried for me in the night. He was just a few 
months old. Gilbert didn't want me to go to him — 
he said the child was well and warm and that it would 
be fostering bad habits in him. But I went — and 
took him up — I can feel that tight clinging of his lit- 
tle arms round my neck yet. Susan, if I hadn't gone 
that night, twenty-one years ago, and taken my baby 
up when he cried for me I couldn't face tomorrow 
morning." 



SUSAN, RILLA, AND DOG MONDAY 73 

*' I do not know how we are going to face it any- 
how, Mrs. Dr. dear. But do not tell me that it will be 
the final farewell. He will be back on leave before he 
goes overseas, will he not? " 

" We hope so but we are not very sure. I am mak- 
ing up my mind that he will not, so that there will be 
no disappointment to bear. Susan, I am determined 
that I will send my boy off tomorrow with a smile. 
He shall not carry away with him the remembrance of 
a weak mother who had not the courage to send when 
he had the courage to go. I hope none of us will 
cry. 

'' / am not going to cry, Mrs. Dr. dear, and that you 
may tie to, but whether I shall manage to smile or not 
will be as Providence ordains and as the pit of my 
stomach feels. Have you room there for this fruit 
cake? And the short-bread? And the mince pie? 
That blessed boy shall not starve, whether they have 
anything to eat in that Quebec place or not. Every- 
thing seems to be changing all at once, does it not? 
Even the old cat at the manse has passed away. He 
breathed his last at a quarter to ten last night and 
Bruce is quite heart-broken, they tell me." 

" It's time that pussy went where good cats go. He 
must be at least fifteen years old. He has seemed so 
lonely since Aunt Martha died." 

" I should not have lamented, Mrs. Dr. dear, if that 
Hyde-beast had died also. He has been Mr. Hyde 
most of the time since Jem came home in khaki, and 
that has a meaning I will, maintain. I do not know 
what Monday will do when Jem is gone. The creature 
just goes about with a human look in his eyes that 
takes all the good out of me when I see it. Ellen West 



74 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

used to be always railing at the Kaiser and we thought 
her crazy, but now I see that there was a method in 
her madness. This tray is packed, Mrs. Dr. dear, and 
I will go down and put in my best licks preparing sup- 
per. I wish I knew when I would cook another sup- 
per for Jem but such things are hidden from our eyes." 

Jem Blythe and Jerry Meredith left next morning. 
It was a dull day, threatening rain, and the clouds lay 
in heavy grey rolls over the sky ; but almost everybody 
in the Glen and Four Winds and Harbour Head and 
Upper Glen and over-harbour — except Whiskers-on- 
the-moon — was there to see them off. The Blythe 
family and the Meredith family were all smiling. 
Even Susan, as Providence did ordain, wore a smile, 
though the effect was somewhat more painful than 
tears would have been. Faith and Nan were very pale 
and very gallant. Rilla thought she would get on very 
well if something in her throat didn't choke her, and if 
her lips didn't take such spells of trembling. Dog 
Monday was there, too. Jem had tried to say good- 
bye to him at Ingleside but Monday implored so elo- 
quently that Jem relented and let him go to the station. 
He kept close to Jem's legs and watched every move- 
ment of his beloved master. 

" I can't bear that dog's eyes," said Mrs. Meredith. 

"The beast has more sense than most humans," 
said Mary Vance. ** Well, did we any of us ever think 
we'd live to see this day ? I bawled all night to think 
of Jem and Jerry going like this. / think they're 
plumb deranged. Miller got a maggot in his head 
about going but I soon talked him out of it — like- 
wise his aunt said a few touching things. For once in 
our lives Kitty Alec and I agree. It's a miracle that 



it 



SUSAN, RILLA, AND DOG MONDAY 7? 

isn't likely to happen again. There's Ken, Rilla." 

Rilla knew Kenneth was there. She had been 
acutely conscious of it from the moment he had 
sprung from Leo West's buggy. Now he came up to 
her smiling. 

" Doing the brave-smiling-sister-stunt, I see. What 
a crowd for the Glen to muster ! Well, I'm off home 
in a few days myself." 

A queer little wind of desolation that even Jem's 
going had not caused, blew over Rilla's spirit. 

Why ? You have another month of vacation." 
Yes — but I can't hang round Four Winds and 
enjoy myself when the world's on fire like this. It's 
me for little old Toronto where I'll find some way of 
helping in spite of this bally ankle. I'm not looking 
at Jem and Jerry — makes me too sick with envy. 
You girls are great — no crying, no grim endurance. 
The boys'U go off with a good taste in their mouths. 
I hope Persis and mother will be as game when my 
turn comes." 

*' Oh, Kenneth — the war will be over before your 
turn cometh." 

There! She had lisped again. Another great 
moment of life spoiled! Well, it was her fate. And 
anyhow, nothing mattered. Kenneth was off already 
-^ he was talking to Ethel Reese, who was dressed, at 
seven in the morning, in the gown she had worn to the 
dance, and was crying. What on earth had Ethel to 
cry about? None of the Reeses were in khaki. Rilla 
wanted to cry, too — but she would not. What was 
that horrid old Mrs. Drew saying to mother, in that 
melancholy whine of hers? " I don't see how you can 
stand this, Mrs. Blythe. / couldn't if it was my pore 



76 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

boy.'' And mother — oh, mother could always be de- 
pended on! How her grey eyes flashed in her pale 
face. " It might have been worse, Mrs. Drew. I 
might have had to urge him to go." Mrs. Drew did 
not understand but Rilla did. She flung up her head. 
Her brother did not have to be urged to go. 

Rilla found herself standing alone and listening to 
disconnected scraps of talk as people walked up and 
down past her. 

" I told Mark to wait and see if they asked for a 
second lot of men. If they did Fd let him go — but 
they won*t," said Mrs. Palmer Burr. 

" I think ril have it made with a crush girdle of 
velvet," said Bessie Clow. 

" I'm frightened to look at my husband's face for 
fear I'll see in it that he wants to go too," said a little 
over-harbour bride. 

" I'm scared stiff," said whimsical Mrs. Jim How- 
ard. " Fm scared Jim will enlist — and I'm scared 
> he won't." 

"The war will be over by Christmas," said Joe 
Vickers. 

"Let them Europeen nations fight it out between 
them," said Abner Reese. 

"When he was a boy I gave him many a good 
trouncing," shouted Norman Douglas, who seemed to 
be referring to some one high in military circles in 
Charlottetown. "Yes, sir, I walloped him well, big 
gun as he is now." 

" The existence of the British Empire is at stake," 
said the Methodist minister. 

"There's certainly something about uniforms," 
sighed Irene Howard. 



SUSAN, RILLA, AND DOG MONDAY 77 

" It's a commercial war when all is said and done 
and not worth one drop of good Canadian blood," said 
a stranger from the shore hotel. 

" The Blythe family are taking it easy," said Kate 
Drew. 

" Them young fools are just going for adventure," 
growled Nathan Crawford. 

*' I have absolute confidence in Kitchener," said the 
over-harbour doctor. 

*' ' It's a long, long way to Tipperary,' " hummed 
Rick MacAUister. 

In these ten minutes Rilla passed through a dizzying 
succession of anger, laughter, contempt, depression and 
inspiration. Oh, people were — funny! How little 
they understood. " Taking it easy," indeed — when 
even Susan hadn't slept a wink all night ! Kate Drew 
always was a minx. 

Rilla felt as if she were in some fantastic night- 
mare. Were these the people who, three weeks ago, 
were talking of crops and prices and local gossip? 

There — the train was coming — mother was hold- 
ing Jem's hand — Dog Monday was licking it — 
everybody was saying good-bye — the train was in! 
Jem kissed Faith before everybody — old Mrs. Drew 
whooped hysterically — the men, led by Kenneth, 
cheered — Rilla felt Jem seize her hand — "Good- 
bye, Spider" — somebody kissed her cheek — she be- 
lieved it was Jerry but never was sure — they were off 

— the train was pulling out — Jem and Jerry were 
waving to everybody — everybody was waving back 

— mother and Nan were smiling still, but as if they 
had just forgotten to take the smile off — Monday was 
howling dismally and being forcibly restrained by the 



78 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Methodist minister from tearing after the train — 
Susan was waving her best bonnet and hurrahing like 
a man — had she gone crazy? — the train rounded a 
curve. They had gone. 

Rilla came to herself with a gasp. There was a 
sudden quiet. Nothing to do now but to go home — 
and wait The doctor and Mrs. Blythe walked off to- 
gether — so did Nan and Faith — so did John Mere- 
dith and Rosemary. Walter and Una and Shirley and 
Di and Carl and Rilla went in a group. Susan had put 
her bonnet back on her head, hindside foremost, and 
stalked grimly off alone. Nobody missed Dog Mon- 
day at first. When they did Shirley went back for 
him. He found Dog Monday curled up in one of the 
shipping sheds near the station and tried to coax him 
home. Dog Monday would not move. He wagged 
his tail to show he had no hard feelings but no blan- 
dishments availed to budge him. 

" Guess Monday has made up his mind to wait there 
till Jem comes back/' said Shirley, trying to laugh as 
he rejoined the rest. 

Which was exactly what Dog Monday had done. 
His dear master had gone — he, Monday, had. been 
deliberately and of malice aforethought prevented from 
going with him by a demon disguised in the garb of a 
Methodist minister. Wherefore, he, Monday, would 
wait there until the smoking, snorting monster, which 
had carried his hero off, carried him back. 

Ay, wait there, little faithful dog with the soft, wist- 
ful, puzzled eyes. But it will be many a long bitter 
day before your boyish comrade comes back to you. 

The doctor was away on a case that night and Susan 
stalked into Mrs. Blythe's room on her way to bed to 



SUSAN, RILLA, AND DOG MONDAY 79 

see if her adored Mrs. Dr. dear were " comfortable 
and composed." She paused solemnly at the foot of 
the bed and solemnly declared. 

" Mrs. Dr. dear, I have made up my mind to be a 
heroine." 

" Mrs. Dr. dear '^ found herself violently inclined 16 
laugh — which was manifestly unfair, since she had 
not laughed when Rilla had announced a similar heroic 
determination. To be sure, Rilla was a slim, white- 
robed thing, with a flower-like face and starry young 
eyes aglow with feeling ; whereas Susan was arrayed in 
a grey flannel nightgown of strait simplicity, and had a 
strip of red woolen worsted tied around her grey hair 
as a charm against neuralgia. But that should not 
make any vital difference. Was it not the spirit that 
coimted? Yet Mrs. Blythe was hard put to it not to 
laugh. 

" I am not," proceeded Susan firmly, " going to 
lament or whine or question the wisdom of the 
Almighty any more as I have been doing lately. 
Whining and shirking and blaming Providence do not 
get us anywhere. We have just got to grapple with 
whatever we have to do whether it is weeding the 
onion patch, or running the Government. / shall 
grapple. Those blessed boys have gone to war; and 
we women, Mrs. Dr. dear, must tarry by the stuff and 
keep a stiff upper lip." 



8o RILLA Of INGLESIDE 



CHAPTER VII 
' A War Baby and a Soup Tureeit 

LIEGE and Namur — ^tid now Brussels ! *' The 
doctor shook his head. " I don't like it — I 
don^t like it/' 

'* Do not you lose heart, Dr. dear ; they were just 
defended by foreigners," said Susan superbly. " Wait 
you till the Germans come against the British ; there 
will be a very different story to tell and that you may 
tie to." 

The doctor shook his head again, but a little less 
gravely; perhaps they all shared subconsciously in 
Susan's belief that " the thin grey line " was unbreak- 
able, even by the victorious rush of Germany's ready 
millions. At any rate, when the terrible day came — 
the first of many terrible days — with the news that 
the British army was driven back they stared at each 
other in blank dismay. 

" It — it can't be true," gasped Nan, taking a brief 
refuge in temporary incredulity. 

** I felt that there was to be bad news today," said 
Susan, " for that cat-creature turned into Mr. Hyde 
this morning without rhyme or reason for it, and that 
was no good omen." 

"'A broken, a beaten, but not a demoralized, 
army '," muttered the doctor, from a London dispatch. 
"Can it be England's army of which such a thing is 
said?" - 

" It will be a long time now before the war is ended," 
said Mrs. Blythe despairingly. 



I 



A WAR BABY AND A SOUP TUREEN 81 

Susan's faith, which had for a moment been tem- 
porarily submerged, now reappeared triumphantly. 

"Remember, Mrs. Dr. dear, that the British army 
is not the British navy. Never forget that And the 
Russians are on their way, too, though Russians are 
people I do not know much about and consequently 
will not tie to." 

" The Russians will not be in time to save Paris," 
said Walter gloomily. ** Paris is the heart of France 
— and the road to it is open. Oh, I wish" — he 
stopped abruptly and went oiit. 

After a paralyzed day the Ingleside folk found it 
was possible to " carry on " even in the face of ever- 
darkening bad news. Susan worked fiercely in her 
kitchen, the doctor went out on his round of visits, 
Nan and Di returned to their Red Cross activities; 
Mrs. Blythe went to Chariottetown to attend a Red 
Cross Convention ; Rilla after relieving her feelings by 
a stormy fit of tears in Rainbow Valley and an out- 
burst in her diary, remembered that she had elected to 
be brave and heroic. And, she thought, it really was 
heroic to volunteer to drive about the Glen and Four 
Winds one day, collecting promised Red Cross sup- 
plies with Abner Crawford's old grey horse. One of 
the Ingleside horses was lame and the doctor needed 
the other, so there was nothing for it but the Craw- 
ford nag, a placid, unhasting, thick-skinned creature 
with an amiable habit of stopping every few yards 
to kick a fly off one leg with the foot of the other. 
Rilla felt that this, coupled with the fact that the Ger- 
mans were only fifty miles from Paris, was hardly to 
be endured. But she started off gallantly on an errand 
fraught with amazing results. 



84 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

no intention of touching the baby — she had no 
" knack with kids " either. She saw an ugly midget 
with a red, distorted little face, rolled up in a piece of 
dingy old flannel. She had never seen an uglier baby. 
Yet a feeling of pity for the desolate, orphaned mite 
which had " come out of the everywhere " into such a 
dubious " here ", took sudden possession of her. 

" What is going to become of the baby? '* she asked. 

"Lord knows," said Mrs. Conover candidly. 
" Min worried awful over that before she died. She 
kept on a-saying ' Oh, what will become of my pore 
baby ' till it really got on my nerves. / ain't a-going 
to trouble myself with it, I can tell yez. I brung up a 
boy that my sister left and he skinned out as soon as he 
got to be some good and won't give me a mite o' help 
in my old age, ungrateful whelp as he is. I told Min 
it'd have to be sent to an orphan asylum till we'd see if 
Jim ever came back to look after it. Would yez be- 
lieve it, she didn't relish the idee. But that's the long 
and short of it." 

" But who will look after it until it can be taken to 
the asylum ? " persisted Rilla. Somehow the baby's 
fate worried her. 

" 'S'pose rU have to," grunted Mrs. Conover. She 
put away her pipe and took an unblushing swig from a 
black bottle she produced from a shelf near her. " It's 
my opinion the kid won't live long. It's sickly. Min 
never had no gimp and I guess it hain't either. Likely 
it won't trouble any one long and good riddance, 
sez I." 

Rilla drew the blanket down a little further. 

" Why, the baby isn't dressed ! " she exclaimed, in a 
shocked tone. 



A WAR BABY AND A SOUP TUREEN 8 ? 

" Who was to dress him I'd like to know/' de- 
manded Mrs. Conover truculently. "I hadn't time — 
took me all the time there was looking after Min. 
'Sides, as I told yez, I don't know nothing about kids. 
Old Mrs. Billy Crawford, she was here when it was 
bom and she washed it and rolled it up in that flannel, 
and Jen she's tended it a bit since. The critter is warm 
enough. This weather would melt a brass monkey." 

Rilla was silent, looking down at the crying baby. 
She had never encountered any of the tragedies of life 
before and this one smote her to the core of her heart. 
The thought of the poor mother going down into the 
valley of the shadow alone, fretting about her baby, 
with no one near but this abominable old woman, hurt 
her terribly. If she had only come a little sooner! 
Yet what could she have done — what could she do 
now? She didn't know, but she must do something. 
She hated babies — but she simply could not go away 
and leave that poor little creature with Mrs. Conover 
— who Was applying herself again to her black bottle 
and would probably be helplessly drunk before any- 
body came. 

'' I can't stay," thought Rilla. " Mr. Crawford said 
I mmt be home by supper time because he wanted the 
pony this evening himself. Oh, what can I do? " 

She made a sudden, desperate, impulsive resolution. 

" I'll take the baby home with me," she said, " Can 
I?" 

" Sure, if yez wants to," said Mrs. Conover amiably. 
" I hain't any objection. Take it and welcome." 

"I — I can't carry it," said Rilla. " I have to drive 
the horse and I'd be afraid I'd drop it. Is there a — a 
basket anywhere that I could put it in ? " 



44 
ii 



86 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

"Not as I knows on. There ain't much here of 
anything, I kin tell yez. Min was pore and as shiftless 
as Jim. Ef ye opens that drawer over there yez'U find 
a few baby clo'es. Best take them along." 

Rilla got the clothes — the cheap, sleazy garments 
the poor mother had made ready as best she could. 
But this did not solve the pressing problem of the 
baby's transportation. Rilla looked helplessly rotmd. 
Oh, for mother — or Susan! Her eyes fell on an 
enormous blue soup tureen at the back of the dresser. 
Can I have this to — to lay him in ? " she asked. 
Well, 'tain't mine but I guess yez kin take it 
Don't smash it if yez can help — Jim might make a 
fuss about it if he comes back alive, — which he sure 
will, seein' he ain't any good. He brung that old 
tureen out from England with him — said it'd always 
been in the family. Him and Min never used it — 
never had enough soup to put in it — but Jim thought 
the world of it. He was mighty perticuler about some 
things but it didn't worry him none that there weren't 
much in the way o' eatables to put in the dishes." 

For the first time in her life Rilla Blythe touched a 
baby — lifted it — rolled it in a blanket, trembling 
with nervousness lest she drop it or — or — break it 
Then she put it in the soup tureen. 

"Is there any fear of it smothering?" she asked 
anxiously. 

" Not much odds if it do," said Mrs. Conover. 

Horrified Rilla ioosened the blanket around the 
baby's face a little. The mite had stopped crying and 
was blinking up at her. It had big dark eyes in its 
ugly little face. 

"Better not let the wind blow on it," admon- 



A WAR BABY AND A SOUP TUREEN 87 

ished Mrs. Conover. "Take its breath if it do." 

Rilla wrapped the tattered little quilt around the 
soup tureen. 

" Will you hand this to me after I get into the 
buggy, please ? " 

" Sure I will," said Mrs. Conover, getting up with 
a grunt. 

And so it was that Rilla Bl)rthe, who had driven to 
the Anderson house a self-confessed hater of babies, 
drove away from it carrying one in a soup tureen on 
her lap ! 

Rilla thought she would never get to Ingleside. 
That miserable pony fairly crawled. In the soup 
tureen there was an uncanny silence. In one way she 
was thankful the baby did not cry but she wished it 
would give an occasional squeak to prove that it was 
alive. Suppose it were smothered! Rilla dared not 
unwrap it to see, lest the wind, which was now blowing 
a hurricane, should " take its breath," whatever dread- 
ful thing that might be. She was a thankful girl 
when at last she reached harbour at Ingleside. 

Rilla carried the soup tureen to the kitchen, set it 
on the table under Susan's eyes and removed the quilt. 
Susan looked into the tureen and for once in her life 
was so completely floored that she had not a word to 
say. 

"What in the world is this?" asked the doctor, 
coming in. 

Rilla poured out her story, " I just had to bring 
it, father," she concluded. " I couldn't leave it there." 

" What are you going to do with it ? " asked the 
doctor coolly. 

Rilla hadn't exactly expected this kind of question. 



88 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" We — we can keep it here for awhile — can't we 
— until something can be arranged?'* she stammered 
confusedly. 

Dr. Blythe walked up and down the kitchen for a 
moment or two while the baby stared at the white walls 
of the soup tureen and Susan showed signs of return- 
ing animation. 

Presently the doctor confronted Rilla. 

"A young baby means a great deal of additional 
work and trouble in a household, Rilla. Nan and Di 
are leaving for Redmond next week and neither your 
mother nor Susan is able to assume so much extra 
care under present conditions. If you want to keep 
that baby here you must attend to it yourself." 

" Me ! " Rilla was dismayed into being ungram- 
matical. " Why — father — I — I couldn't ! " 

" Younger girls than you have had to look after 
babies. My advice and Susan's is at your disposal. 
If you cannot, then the baby must go back to Meg Con- 
over. It's lease of life will be short if it does for it is 
evident that it is a delicate child, and requires particu- 
lar care. I doubt if it would survive even if sent to an 
orphan's home. But I cannot have your mother and 
Susan over-taxed." 

The doctor walked out of the kitchen, looking very 
stern and immovable. In his heart he knew quite well 
that the small inhabitant of the big soup tureen would 
remain at Ingleside, but he meant to see if Rilla could 
not be induced to rise to the occasion. 

Rilla sat looking blankly at the baby. It was 
absurd to think she could take care of it. But — that 
poor little, frail, dead mother who had worried about 
it — that dreadful old Meg Conover. 



A WAR BABY AND A SOUP TUREEN 8g 

" Susan, what must be done for a baby? " she asked 
dolefully. 

" You must keep it warm and dry and wash it every 
day, and be sure the water is neither too hot nor too 
cold, and feed it every two hours. If it has colic, you 
put hot things on its stomach," said Susan, rather 
feebly and flatly for her. 

The baby began to cry again. 

" It must be hungry — it has to be fed anyhow," said 
Rilla desperately. " Tell me what to get for it, Susan, 
and I'll get it." 

Under Susan's directions a ration of milk and water 
was prepared, and a bottle obtained from the doctor's 
office. Then Rilla lifted the baby out of the soup 
tureen and fed it. She brought down the old basket 
of her own infancy from the attic and laid the now 
sleeping baby in it. She put the soup tureen away in 
the pantry. Then she sat down to think things over. 

The result of her thinking things over was that she 
went to Susan when the baby woke. 

" I'm going to see what I can do, Susan. I can't 
let that poor little thing go back to Mrs. Conover. 
Tell me how to wash and dress it." 

Under Susan's supervision Rilla bathed the baby. 
Susan dared not help, other than by suggestion, for 
the doctor was in the living room and might pop in at 
any moment. Susan had learned by experience that 
when Dr. Blythe put his foot down and said a thing 
must be, that thing was. Rilla set her teeth and went 
ahead. In the name of goodness, how many wrinkles 
and kinks did a baby have ? Why, there wasn't enough 
of it to take hold of. Oh, suppose she let it slip into 
the water — it was so wobbly! If it would only stop 



90 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

howling like that! How could such a tiny morsel 
make such an enormous noise. Its shrieks could be 
heard over Ingleside from cellar to attic. 

" Am I really hurting it much, Susan, do you sup- 
pose? " she asked piteously. 

" No dearie. Most new babies hate like poison to 
be washed. You are real knacky for a beginner. 
Keep your hand under its back, whatever you do, and 
keep cool." 

Keep cool! Rilla was oozing perspiration at every 
pore. When the baby was dried and dressed and tem- 
porarily quieted with another bottle she was as limp 
as a rag. 

" What must I do with it tonight, Susan ? '^ 

A baby by day was dreadful enough; a baby by 
night was unthinkable. 

** Set the basket on a chair by your bed and keep it 
covered. You will have to feed it once or twice in 
the night, so you would better take the oil heater up- 
stairs. If you cannot manage it call me and I will go, 
doctor or no doctor." 

" But, Susan, if it cries? " 

The baby, however, did not cry. It was surpris- 
ingly good — perhaps because its poor Htttle stomach 
was filled with proper food. It slept most of the night 
but Rilla did not. She was afraid to go to sleep for 
fear something would happen to the baby. She pre- 
pared its three o'clock ration with a grim determina- 
tion that she would fwt call Susan. Oh, was she 
dreaming? Was it really she, Rilla Blythe, who had 
got into this absurd predicament? She did not care 
if the Germans were near Paris — she did not care if 
they were in Paris — if only the baby wouldn't cry or 



RILLA DECIDES 91 

choke or smother or have convulsions. Babies did 
have convulsions, didn't they? Oh, why had she for- 
gotten to ask Susan what she must do if the baby had 
convulsions? She reflected rather bitterly that father 
was very considerate of mother's and Susan's health, 
but what about hers ? Did he think she could continue 
to exist if she never got any sleep? But she was not 
going to back down now — not she. She would look 
after this detestable little animal if it killed her. She 
would get a book on baby hygiene and be beholden to 
nobody. She would never go to father for advice — 
she wouldn't bother mother — and she would only con- 
descend to Susan in dire extremity. They would all 
see! 

Thus it came about that Mrs. Bl)rthe, when she re- 
turned home two nights later and asked Susan where 
Rilla was, was electrified by Susan's composed reply. 

*' She's upstairs, Mrs. Dr. dear, putting her baby to 
bed." 



CHAPTER VIII 



Rilla Decides 



FAMILIES and individuals alike soon become 
used to new conditions and accept them .unques- 
tioningly. By the time a week had elapsed it seemed 
as if the Anderson baby had always been at Ingleside; 
it was simply part of the routine of daily life. After 



92 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the first three distracted nights Rilla began to sleep 
again, waking automatically to attend to her charge on 
schedule time. She bathed and fed and dressed it as 
skilfully as if she had been doing it all her life. She 
liked neither her job nor the baby any the better; she 
still handled it as gingerly as if it were some kind of a 
small lizard, and a breakable lizard at that; but she 
did her work thoroughly and there was not a cleaner, 
better-cared-for infant in Glen St. Mary. She even 
took to weighing the creature every day and jotting 
the result down in her diary ; but sometimes she asked 
herself pathetically why unkind destiny had ever led 
her down the Anderson lane on that fatal day. Shir- 
ley, Nan and Di did not tease her as much as she had 
expected. They all seemed rather stunned by the 
mere fact of Rilla adopting a war-baby; perhaps, too, 
the doctor had issued instructions. Walter, of course, 
never had teased her over anything; one day he told 
her she was a brick. 

" It took more courage for you to tackle that five 
pounds of new infant, Rilla-my-Rilla, than it would be 
for Jem to face a mile of Germans. I wish I had half 
your pluck," he said ruefully. 

Rilla was very proud of Walter's approval; never- 
theless, she wrote gloomily in her diary that night : — 

*' I wish I could like the baby a little bit It would 
make things easier. But I don't. I've heard people 
say that when you took care of a baby you got fond of 
it — but you don't — / don't, anyway. And it's a 
nuisance — it interferes with everything. It just ties 
me down — and now of all times when I'm trying to 
get the Junior Reds started. And I couldn't go to 
Alice Qow's party last night and I was just dying to. 



RILLA DECIDES 93 

Of course father isn't really unreasonable and I can 
always get an hour or two off in the evening when it's 
necessary ; but I knew he wouldn't stand for my being 
out half the night and leaving Susan or mother to see 
to the baby. I suppose it was just as well, because the 
thing did take colic — or something — about one 
o'clock. It didn't kick or stiffen out, so I knew that, 
according to Morgan, it wasn't crying for temper ; and 
it wasn't hungry and no pins were sticking in it. It 
screamed till it was black in the face; I got up and 
heated water and put the hot water bottle on its 
stomach, and it howled worse than ever and drew up 
its poor wee thin legs. I was afraid I had burnt it 
but I don't believe I did. Then I walked the floor with 
it although ' Morgan on Infants ' says that should 
never be done. I walked miles, and oh, I was so tired 
and discouraged and mad — yes, I was. I could have 
shaken the creature if it had been big enough to shake, 
but it wasn't. Father was out on a case, and mother 
had had a headache and Susan is squiffy because when 
she and Morgan differ I insist upon going by what 
Morgan says, so I was determined I wouldn't call her 
unless I had to. 

** Finally, Miss Oliver came in. She rooms with Nan 
now, not me, all because of the baby, and I am broken- 
hearted about it. I miss our long talks after we went 
to bed, so much. It was the only time I ever had her 
to myself. I hated to think the baby's yells had 
wakened her up, for she has so much to bear now. 
Mr. Grant is at Valcartier, too, and Miss Oliver feels 
it dreadfully, though she is splendid about it. She 
thinks he will never come back and her eyes just break 
my heart, — they are so tragic. She said it wasn't the 



94 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

baby that woke her — she hadn't been able to sleep be- 
cause the Germans are so near Paris ; she took the lit- 
tle wretch and laid it flat on its stomach across her 
knee and thiunped its back gently a few times, and it 
stopped shrieking and went right off to sleep and slept 
like a lamb the rest of the night. / didn't — I was too 
worn out. I have just felt all day like something the 
cats had brought in, as Susan says. 

" I'm having a perfectly dreadful time getting the 
Junior Reds started. I succeeded in getting Betty 
Mead as President, and I am secretary, but they put 
Jen Vickers in as treasurer and I despise her. She is 
the sort of girl who calls any clever or handsome or 
distinguished people she knows slightly by their first 
names — behind their backs. And she is sly and two- 
faced. Una doesn't mind, of course. She is willing 
to do an3rthing that comes to hand and never minds 
whether she has an office or not. She is just a per- 
fect angel, while I am only angelic in spots and demonic 
in other spots. I wish Walter would take a fancy to 
her, but he never seems to think about her in that way, 
although I heard him say once she was like a tea rose. 
She is, too. And she gets imposed upon, just because 
she is so sweet and willing; but / don't allow people 
to impose on Rilla Blythe and ' that you may iie to ', as 
Susan says. 

" Just as I expected, Olive was determined we should 
have lunch served at bur meetings. We had a battle 
royal over it. The majority was against eats and now 
the minority is sulking. Irene Howard was on the eats 
side and she has been very cool to me ever since and it 
makes me feel miserable. I wonder if Mother and 
Mrs. Elliott have problems in the Senior Society too. 



RILLA DECIDES 95 

I suppose they have, but they just go on calmly in spite 
of everything. / go on — but not calmly — I rage 
and cry — but I do it all in private and blow off steam 
in this diary ; and when it's over I vow FU show them. 
I never sulk. I detest people who sulk. Anyhow, 
we've got the society started and we're to meet once a 
week, and we're all going to learn to knit. So much 
is accomplished. 

" Shirley and I went down to the station again to 
try to induce Dog Monday to come home but we 
failed. All the family have tried and failed. Three 
days after Jem had gone Walter went down and 
brought Monday home by main force in the buggy and 
shut him up for three days. Then Monday went on a 
hunger strike and howled like a Banshee night and 
day. We had to let him out or he would have starved 
to death. 

** So we have decided to let him alone and father 
has arranged with the butcher near the station to feed 
him with bones and scraps. Besides, one of us goes 
down nearly every day to take him something. He- 
just lies curled up in the shipping shed, and every time 
a train comes in he will rush over to the platform, 
wagging his tail expectantly, and tear around to every- 
one who comes off the train. And then, when the train 
goes and he realizes that Jem has not come, he creeps 
dejectedly back to his shed, with his disappointed eyes, 
and lies down patiently to wait for the next train. 
Mr. Gray, the station master, says there are times 
when he can hardly help crying from sheer sympathy. 
One day some boys threw stones at Monday and old 
Johnny Mead, who never was known to take notice 
of anything before, snatched up a meat axe in the 



96 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

butcher's shop and chased them through the village. 
Nobody has molested Monday since. 

" Kenneth Ford has gone back to Toronto. He 
came up two evenings ago to say good-bye. I wasn't 
home — some clothes had to be made for the baby and 
Mrs. Meredith offered to help me, so I was over at 
the manse, and I didn't see Kenneth. Not that it mat- 
ters ; he told Nan to say good-bye to Spider for him 
and tell me not to forget him wholly in my absorbing 
maternal duties. If he could leave such a frivolous, 
insulting message as that for me it shows plainly that 
our beautiful hour on the sandshore meant nothing to 
him and I am not going to think about him or it again. 

" Fred Arnold was at the manse and walked home 
with me. He is the new Methodist minister's son and 
very nice and clever, and would be quite handsome if 
it were not for his nose. It is a really dreadful nose. 
When he talks of common-place things it does not 
matter so much, but when he talks of poetry and ideals 
the contrast between his nose and his conversation is 
too much for me and I want to shriek with laughter. 
It is really not fair, because everything he said was 
perfectly charming and if somebody like Kenneth had 
said it I would have been enraptured. When I listened 
to him with my eyes cast down I was quite fascinated ; 
but as soon as I looked up and saw his nose the spell 
was broken. He wants to enlist, too, but can't be- 
cause he is only seventeen. Mrs. Elliott met us as we 
were walking through the village and could not have 
looked more horrified if she had caught me walking 
with the Kaiser himself. Mrs. Elliott detests the 
Methodists and all their works. Father says it is an 
obsession with her." 



RILLA DECIDES 97 

About the first of September there was an exodus 
from Ingleside and the manse. Faith, Nan, Di and 
Walter left for Redmond; Carl betook himself to his 
Harbour Head school and Shirley was off to Queen's. 
Rilla was left alone at Ingleside and would have been 
very lonely if she had had time to be. She missed 
Walter keenly ; since their talk in Rainbow Valley they 
had grown very near together and Rilla discussed prob- 
lems with Walter which she never mentioned to others. 
But she was so busy with the Junior Reds and her baby 
that there was rarely a spare minute for loneliness; 
sometimes, for a brief space after she went to bed she 
cried a little in her pillow over Walter's absence and 
Jem at Valcartier and Kenneth's unromantic farewell 
message, but she was generally asleep before the tears 
got fairly started. 

" Shall I make arrangements to have the baby sent 
to Hopetown?" the doctor asked one day two weeks 
after the baby's arrival at Ingleside. 

For a moment Rilla was tempted to say "yes." 
The baby could be sent to Hopetown — it would be 
decently looked after — she could have her free days 
and untrammelled nights back again. But — but — 
that poor young mother who hadn't wanted it to go to 
the asylum! Rilla couldn't get that out of her 
thoughts. And that very morning she discovered that 
the baby had gained eight ounces since its coming to 
Ingleside. Rilla had felt such a thrill of pride over 
this. 

"You — you said it mightn't live if it went to 
Hopetown," she said. 

" It mightn't. Somehow, institutional care, no mat- 
ter how .good it may be, doesn't always succeed with 



98 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

delicate babies. But you know what it means if you 
want it kept here, Rilla." 

" I've taken care of it for a fortnight — and it has 
gained half a pound," cried Rilla. " I think we'd bet- 
ter wait until we hear from its father anyhow. He 
mightn't want to have it sent to an orphan asylum, 
when he is fighting the battles of his country." 

The doctor and Mrs. Blythe exchanged amused, 
satisfied smiles behind Rilla's back ; and nothing more 
was said about Hopetown. 

Then the smile faded from the doctor's face; the 
Germans were twenty miles from Paris. Horrible 
tales were beginning to appear in the papers of deeds 
done in martyred Belgium. Life was very tense at 
Ingleside for the older people. 

" We eat up the war news," Gertrude Oliver told 
Mrs. Meredith, trying to laugh and failing. "We 
study the maps and nip the whole Hun army in a few 
well-directed strategic moves. But Papa Joffre hasn't 
the benefit of our advice — and so Paris — must — 
fall." 

" Will they reach it — will not some mighty hand yti 
intervene?" murmured John Meredith. 

" I teach school like one in a dream," continued Gei^ 
trude ; " then I come home and shut myself in my room 
and walk the floor. I am wearing a path- right across 
Nan's carpet. We are so horribly near this war. It 
means so much to us all." 

" Them Geman men are at Stnlis. Nothing nor no- 
body can save Paris now," wailed Cousin Sophia. 
Cousin Sophia had taken to reading the newspapers 
and had learned more about the geography of North- 
em France, if not about the pronunciation of French 



RILLA DECIDES 99 

names, in her seventy-first year than she had ever 
known in her schooldays. 

" I have not such a poor opinion of the Almighty, 
or of Kitchener,** said Susan stubbornly. " I see 
there is a Bernstoff man in the States who says that 
the war is over and Germany has won, — and they tell 
me Whiskers-on-the-Moon says the same thing and is 
quite pleased about it, but / could tell them both that 
it is chancy work counting chickens even the day be- 
fore they are hatched, and bears have been known to 
live long after their skins were sold.*' 

"Why ain't the British navy doing more?" per- 
sisted Cousin Sophia. 

" Even the British navy cannot sail on dry land, 
Sophia Crawford. I have not given up hope, and I 
shall not, Tomascow and Mobbage and all such barbar- 
ous names to the contrary notwithstanding. Mrs. Dr. 
dear, can you tell me if R-h-e-i-m-s is Rimes or Reems 
or Rames or Rems ? ** 

** I believe it's really more like ' Rhangs*, Susan.*' 
Oh, those French names,** groaned Susan. 
They tell me the Germans has about ruined the 
church there,** sighed Cousin Sophia. " I always 
thought the Germans was Christians.** 

" A church is bad enough but their doings in Bel- 
gium are far worse,*' said Susan grimly. '* When I 
heard the doctor reading about them bayonetting the 
babies, Mrs. Dr. dear, I just thought, * Oh, what if it 
were our Little Jem ! ' I was stirring the soup at the 
time, as you know, when that thought came to me and 
I just felt that if I could have lifted that saucepan full 
of that boiling soup and thrown it at the Kaiser I 
would not have lived in vain." 






ri8029A 



loo RILLA OF INgLESIDE 

" Tomorrow — tomorrow — will bring the news 
that the Germans are in Paris," said Gertrude Oliver, 
through her tense lips. She had one of those souls 
that are always tied to the stake, burning in the suffer- 
ing of the world around them. Apart from her own 
personal interest in the war, she was racked by the 
thought of Paris falling into the ruthless hands of the 
hordes who had burned Louvain and ruined the won- 
der of Rheims. 

But on the morrow and the next morrow came the 
news of the miracle of the Marne. Rilla rushed madly 
home from the office waving the Enterprise with its 
big red headlines. Susan ran out with trembling hands 
to hoist the flag. The doctor stalked about muttering 
" Thank God." Mrs. Blythe cried and laughed and 
cried again. 

'' God just put out His hand and touched them — 
* thus far — no further '/' said Mr. Meredith that eve- 
ning. 

Rilla was singing upstairs as she put the baby to bed. 
Paris was saved — the war was over — Germany had 
lost — there would soon be an end now — Jem and 
Jerry would be back. The black clouds had rolled by. 

" Don't you dare have colic this joyful night," she 
told the baby. " If you do I'll clap you back into your 
soup tureen and ship you off to Hopetown  — by freight 

— on the early train. You have got beautiful eyes — 
and you're not quite as red and wrinkled as you were 

— but you haven't a speck of hair — and your hands 
are like little claws — and I don't like you a bit better 
than I ever did. But I hope your poor little white 
mother knows that you're tucked in a soft basket with 
a bottle of milk as rich as Morgan allows instead of 



DOC HAS A MISADVENTURE loi 

perishing by inches with old Meg Conover. And I 
hope she doesn't know that I nearly drowned you that 
first morning when Susan wasn't there and I let you 
slip right out of my hands into the water. Why will 
you be so slippery? No, I don't like you and I never 
will but for all that Fm going to make a decent, up- 
standing infant of you. You are going to get as fat 
as a self-respecting child shduld be, for one thing. 
I am not going to have people saying * what a puny 
little thing that baby of Rilla Blythe's is,' as old Mrs. 
Drew said at the senior Red Cross yesterday. If I 
can't love you I mean to be proud of you at least." 



CHAPTER IX 
Doc Has a Misadventure 

THE war will not be over before next spring 
now," said Dr. Blythe, when it became apparent 
that the long battle of the Aisne had resulted in stale- 
mate. 

Rilla was murmuring " knit four, purl one " under 
her breath, and rocking the baby's cradle with one 
foot. Morgan disapproved of cradles for babies but 
Susan did not, and it was worth while to make some 
slight sacrifice of principle to keep Susan in good 
humour. So a cradle had been substituted for Rilla's 
old basket. She laid down her knitting for a moment 
and said, " Oh, how can we bear it so long? " — ^then 
picked up her sock and went on. The Rilla of two 



102 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

months before would have rushed off to Rainbow Val- 
ley and cried. 

Miss Oliver sighed and Mrs. Blythe clasped her 
hands for a moment. Then Susan said briskly, 
" Well, we must just gird up our loins and pitch in. 
Business as usual is England's motto, they tell me, 
Mrs. Dr. dear, and I have taken it for mine, not 
thinking I could easily find a better^ I shall ihake the 
same kind of pudding today I always made on Satur- 
day. It is a good deal of trouble to make, and that is 
well, for it will employ my thoughts. I will remem- 
ber that Kitchener is at the helm and Joflfer is doing 
very well for a Frenchman. I shall get that box of 
cake off to little Jem and finish that pair of socks to- 
day likewise. A sock a day is my allowance. Old 
Mrs. Albert Mead of Harbour Head manages a pair 
and a half a day but she has nothing to do but knil 
You know, Mrs. Dr. dear, she has been bed-rid for 
years and she has been worrying terrible because she 
was no good to anybody and a dreadful expense, and 
yet could not die and be out of the way. And now 
they tell me she is quite chirked up and resigned to 
living because there is something she can do, and she 
knits for the soldiers from daylight until dark. Even 
Cousin Sophia has taken to knitting, Mrs. Dr. dear, 
and it is a good thing, for she cannot think of quite so 
many doleful speeches to make when her hands are 
busy with her needles instead of being folded on her 
stomach. She thinks we will all be Germans this time 
next year but I tell her it will take more than a year 
to make a German out of me. Do you know that 
Rick MacAUister has enlisted, Mrs. Dr. dear? And 
they say Joe Milgrave would too, only he is afraid that 



t 



DOC HAS A MISADVENTURE 103 

if he does that Whiskers-on-the-Moon will not let him 
have Miranda. Whiskers says that he will believe the 
stories of German atrocities when he sees them, and 
that it is a good thing that Rangs Cathedral has been 
destroyed because it was a Roman Catholic church. 
Now, I am not a Roman Catholic, Mrs. Dr. dear, 
being bom and bred a good Presbyterian and meaning 
to live and die one, but I maintain that the Catholics 
have as good a right to their churches as we have to 
ours and that the Huns had no kind of business to 
destroy them. Just think, Mrs. Dr. dear," concluded 
Susan pathetically, " how we would feel if a German 
shell knocked down the spire of our church here in the 
Glen, and I am sure it is every bit as bad to think of 
Rangs cathedral being hammered to pieces." 

And, meanwhile, everywhere, the lads of the world 
rich and poor, low and high, white and brown, were 
following the Piper's call. 

" Even Billy Andrews' boy is going — and Jane's 
only son — and Diana's little Jack," said Mrs. Blythe. 
" Priscilla's son has gone from Japan and Stella's from 
Vancouver — and both the Rev. Jo's boys. Philippa 
writes that her boys * went right away, not being af- 
flicted with her indecision.' " 

*' Jem says that he thinks they will be leaving very 
soon now, and that he will not be able to get leave to 
come so far before they go, as they will have to start 
at a few hours' notice," said the doctor, passing the 
letter to his wife. 

" That is not fair," said Susan indignantly. " Has 
Sir Sam Hughes no regard for our feelings? The 
idea of whisking that blessed boy away to Europe 
without letting us even have a last glimpse of him! 



104 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

If I were you, doctor dear, I would write to the papers 
about it, that I would." 

" Perhaps it is as well," said the disappointed 
mother. " I don't believe I could bear another part- 
ing from him — now that I know the war will not be 
over as soon as we hoped when he left first. Oh, if 
only — but no, I won't say it ! Like Susan and Rilla," 
concluded Mrs. Blythe, achieving a laugh, " I am de- 
termined to be a heroine." 

" You're all good stuff," said the doctor, " I'm proud 
of my women folks. Even Rilla here, my * lily of the 
field,' is running a Red Cross Society full blast and 
saving a little life for Canada. That's a good piece 
of work. Rilla, daughter of Anne, what are you 
going to call your war-baby? " 

" I'm waiting to hear from Jim Anderson," said 
Rilla. " He may want to name his own child." 

But as the autumn weeks went by no word came 
from Jim Anderson, who had never been heard from 
since he sailed from Halifax, and to whom the fate 
of wife and child seemed a matter of indifference. 
Eventually Rilla decided to call the baby James, and 
Susan opined that Kitchener should be added thereto. 
So James Kitchener Anderson became the possessor of 
a name somewhat more imposing than himself. The 
Ingelside family promptly shortened it to " Jims," but 
Susan obstinately called him " Little Kitchener " and 
nothing else. 

" Jims is no name for a Christian child, Mrs. Dr. 
dear," she said disapprovingly. " Cousin Sophia says 
it is too flippant, and for once I consider she utters 
sense, though I would not please her by openly agree- 
ing with her. As for the child, he is beginning to 






DOC HAS A MISADVENTURE 105 

look something like a baby, and I must admit that Rilla 
is wonderful with him, though I would not pamper 
pride by saying so to her face. Mrs. Dr. dear, I shall 
never, no never, forget the first sight I had of that 
infant, lying in that big soup tureen, rolled up in dirty 
flannel. It is not often that Susan Baker is flabber- 
gasted, but flabbergasted I was then, and that you may 
tie to. For one awful moment I thought my mind had 
given way and that I was seeing visions. Then thinks 
I, ' No, I never heard of any one having a vision of a 
soup tureen, so it must be real at least,' and I plucked 
up confidence. When I heard the Doctor tell Rilla 
that she must take care of the baby I thought he was 
joking, for I did not believe for a minute she would 
or could do it. But you see what has happened and it 
is making a woman of her. When we have to do a 
thing, Mrs. Dr. dear, we can do it." ft 

Susan added another proof to this concludilr dictum 
of hers one day in October. The doctor anciliip wife 
were away. Rilla was presiding over Jim's alRmoon 
siesta upstairs, purling four and knitting one with 
ceaseless vim. Susan was seated on the back veranda, 
shelling beans, and Cousin Sophia was helping her. 
Peace and tranquillity brooded over the Glen ; the sky 
was fleeced over with silvery, shining clouds. Rain- 
bow Valley lay in a soft, autumnal haze of fairy pur- 
ple. The maple grove was a burning bush of color 
and the hedge of sweet-briar around the kitchen yard 
was a thing of wonder in its subtle tintings. It did not 
seem that strife could be in the world, and Susan's 
faithful heart was lulled into a brief forget fulness, 
although she had lain awake most of the preceding 
night thinking of little Jem far out on the Atlantic, 



iq6 rilla of ingleside 

where the great fleet was carrying Canada's first army 
across the ocean. Even Cousin Sophia looked less 
melancholy than usual and admitted that there was 
not much fault to be found in the day, although there 
was no doubt it was a weather-breeder and there would 
be an awful storm on its heels. 

" Things is too calm to last," she said. 

As if in confirmation of her assertion, a most un- 
earthly din suddenly arose behind them. It was quite 
impossible to describe the confused medley of bangs 
and rattles and muffled shrieks and yowls that pro- 
ceeded from the kitchen, accompanied by occasional 
crashes. Susan and Cousin Sophia stared at each 
other in dismay. 

" What upon airth has bruk loose in there? *' gasped 
Cousin Sophia. 

" It must be that Hyde-cat gone clean mad at last," 
mutter^ Susan. " I have always expected it." 

Rill.^;came flying out of the side door of the living 
room.^ 

What has happened?" she demanded. 
It is beyond me to say, but that possessed beast of 
yours is evidently at the bottom of it," said Susan. 
" Do not go near him, at least. I will open the door 
and peep in. There goes some more of the crockery. 
I have always said that the devil was in him and that 
I will tie to." 

" It is my opinion that the cat has hydrophobia," 
said Cousin Sophia solemnly. " I once heard of a cat 
that went mad and bit three people — and they dl died 
a most terrible death, and turned as black as ink." 

Undismayed by this, Susan opened the door and 
looked in. The floor was littered with fragments of 



« 



DOC HAS A MISADVENTURE 107 

broken dishes, for it seemed that the fatal tragedy 
had taken place on the long dresser where Susan's 
array of cooking bowls had been marshalled in shining 
state. Around and around the kitchen tore a frantic 
cat, with his head wedged tightly in an old salmon 
can. Blindly he careered about with shrieks and pro- 
fanity commingled, now banging the can madly against 
anything he encountered, now trying vainly to wrench 
it off with his paws. 

The sight was so funny that Rilla doubled up with 
laughter. Susan looked at her reproachfully. 

" I see nothing to laugh at. That beast has broken 
your ma's big blue mixing bowl that she brought from 
Green Gables when she was married. That is no small 
calamity, in my opinion. But the thing to consider 
now is how to get that can off Hyde's head." 

" Don't you dast go touching it," exclaimec^ Cousin 
Sophia, galvanized into animation. " It mightjbe your 
death. Shut the kitchen up and send for Albert." 

" I am not in the habit of sending for Albert dur- 
ing family difficulties," said Susan loftily^ "That 
beast is in torment, and whatever my opinion of him 
may be, I cannot endure to see him suffering pain. 
He is not mad — at least not any madder than he fre- 
quently is. But you keep away, Rilla, for little Kitch- 
ener's sake, and I will see what I can do.'* 

Susan stalked undauntedly into the kitchen, seized an 
old storm coat of the doctor's and after a wild pur- 
suit and several fruitless dashes and pounces, managed 
to throw it over the cat and can. Then she proceeded 
to saw the can loose with a can opener, while Rilla 
held the squirming animal, rolled in the coat. Any- 
thing like Doc's shrieks while the process was going on 



io8 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

was never heard at Ingleside. Susan was in mortal 
dread that the Albert Craw fords would hear it and 
conclude she was torturing the creature to death. Doc 
was a wrathful and indignant cat when he was freed. 
Evidently he thought the whole thing was a put up job 
to bring him low. He gave Susan a baleful glance by 
way of gratitude and rushed out of the kitchen to take 
sanctuary in the jungle of the sweetrbriar hedge, where 
he sulked for the rest of the day. Susan swept up her 
broken dishes grimly. 

" The Huns themselves couldn't have worked more 
havoc here," she said bitterly. " But when people will 
keep a Satanic animal like that, in spite of all warn- 
ings, they cannot complain when their wedding bowls 
get broken. Things have come to a pretty pass when 
an honest woman cannot leave her kitchen for a few 
minutes without a fiend of a cat rampaging through it 
with his head in a salmon can." 



CHAPTER X 
The Troubles of Rilla 

OCTOBER passed out and the dreary days of 
November and December dragged by. The 
world shook with the thunder of contending armies; 
Antwerp fell — Turkey declared war — gallant little 
Serbia gathered herself together and struck a deadly 
blow at her oppressor; and in quiet, hill-girdled Glen 
St. Mary, thousands of miles away, hearts beat with 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 109 

hope and fear over the varying dispatches from day 
to day. 

" A few months ago," said Miss Oliver, " we 
thought and talked in terms of Glen St. Mary. Now, 
we think and talk in terms of military tactics and 
diplomatic intrigue." 

There was just one great event every day — the 
coming of the mail. Even Susan admitted, that from 
the time the mail-courier's buggy rumbled over the lit- 
tle bridge between the station and the village until the 
papers were brought home and read, she could not 
work properly. 

" I must take up my knitting then and knit hard till 
the papers come, Mrs. Dr. dear. Knitting is some- 
thing you can do, even when your heart is going like 
a trip-hammer and the pit of your stomach feels all 
gone and your thoughts are catawampus. Then when 
I see the headlines, be they good or be they bad, I calm 
down and am able to go about my business again. It 
is an unfortunate thing that the mail comes in just 
when our dinner rush is on, and I think the Govern- 
ment could arrange things better. But the drive on 
Calais has failed, as I felt perfectly sure it would, and 
the Kaiser will not eat his Christmas dinner in London 
this year. Do you know, Mrs. Dr. dear" — Susan's 
voice lowered as a token that she was going to impart 
a very shocking piece of information, — " I have been 
told on good authority — or else you may be sure I 
would not be repeating it when it concerns a minister 
— that the Rev. Mr. Arnold goes to Charlottetown 
every week and takes a Turkish bath for his rheu- 
matism. The idea of him doing that when we are at 
war with Turkey? One of his own deacons has 



no RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

always insisted that Mr. Arnold's theology was not 
sound and I am beginning to believe that there is some 
reason to fear it. Well, I must bestir myself this 
afternoon and get little Jem*s Christmas cake packed 
up for him. He will enjoy it, if the blessed boy is not 
drowned in mud before that time." 

Jem was in camp on Salisbury Plain and was writ- 
ing gay, cheery letters home in spite of the mud. Wal- 
ter was at Redmond and his letters to Rilla were any- 
thing but cheerful. She never opened one without a 
dread tugging at her heart that it would tell her he 
had enlisted. His unhappiness made her unhappy. 
She wanted to put her arm around him and comfort 
him, as she had done that day in Rainbow Valley. 
She hated everybody who was responsible for Walter's 
unhappiness. 

** He will go yet,'* she murmured miserably to her- 
self one afternoon, as she sat alone in Rainbow Val- 
ley, reading a letter from him, " he will go yet — and 
if he does I just can't bear it." 

Walter wrote that some one had sent him an en- 
velope containing a white feather. 

" I deserved it, Rilla. I felt that I ought to put it 
on and wear it — proclaiming myself to all Redmond 
the coward I know I am. The boys of my year are 
going — going. Every day two or three of them join 
up. Some days I almost make up my mind to do it — 
and then I see myself thrusting a bayonet through an- 
other man — some woman's husband or sweetheart or 
son — perhaps the father of little children — I see my- 
self lying alone torn and mangled, burning with thirst 
on a cold, wet field, surrounded by dead and dying men 
— and I know I never can. I can't face even the 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 1 1 1 

thought of it. How could I face the reality? There 
are times when I wish I had never been born. Life 
has always seemed such a beautiful thing to me — I 
wanted to make it more beautiful — and now it is a 
hideous thing. Rilla-my-Rilla, if it weren't for your 
letters — your dear, bright, merry, funny, comical, be- 
liemng letters — I thiric Fd give up. And Una's ! 
Una is really a little brick, isn't she ? There's a won- 
derful fineness and firmness under all that shy, wistful, 
girlishness of her. She hasn't your knack of writing 
laugh-provoking epistles, but there's something in her 
letters — I don't know what — that makes me feel 
at least while I'm reading them, that I could even go 
to the front. Not that she ever says a word about 
my going — or hints that I ought to go — she isn't 
that kind* It's just the spirit of them — the person- 
ality that is in them. Well, I can't go. You have a 
brother and Una has a friend who is a coward," 

" Oh, I wish Walter wouldn't write such things," 
sighed Rilla. " It hurts me. He isn't a coward — he 
isn't — he isn't! '^ 

She looked wistfully about her — at the little wood- 
land valley and the grey, lonely fallows beyond. How 
everything reminded her of Walter! The red leaves 
still clung to the wild sweet briars that overhung a 
curve of the brook ; their stems were gemmed with the 
pearls of the gentle rain that had fallen a little while 
before. Walter had once written a poem describing 
them. The wind was sighing and rustling among the 
frosted brown bracken ferns, then lessening sorrow- 
fully away down the brook. Walter had said once 
that he loved the melancholy of the autumn wind on 
a November day. The old Tree Lovers still clasped 



112 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

each other in a faithful embrace, and the White Lady, 
now a great white-branched tree, stood out beauti- 
fully fine, against the grey velvet sky. Walter had 
named them long ago; and last November, when he 
had walked with her and Miss Oliver in the Valley, 
he had said, looking at the leafless Lady, with a young 
silver moon hanging over her, "A white birch is a 
beautiful Pagan maiden who has never lost the Eden 
secret of being naked and unashamed." Miss Oliver 
had said, " Put that into a poem, Walter," and he had 
done so, and read it to them the next day — just a 
short thing with goblin imagination in every line of it. 
Oh, how happy they had been then ! 

Well — Rilla scrambled to her feet — time was up. 
Jims would soon be awake — his lunch had to be pre- 
pared — his little slips had to be ironed — there was 
a committee meeting of the Junior Reds that night — 
there was her new knitting bag to finish — it would be 
the handsomest bag in the Junior Society — handsomer 
even than Irene Howard's — she must get home and 
get to work. She was busy these days from morning 
till night. That little monkey of a Jims took so much 
time. But he was growing — he was certainly grow- 
ing. And there were times when Rilla felt sure that 
it was not merely a pious hope but an absolute fact 
that he was getting decidedly better looking. Some- 
times she felt quite proud of him; and sometimes she 
yearned to spank him. But she never kissed him or 
wanted to kiss him. 

" The Germans captured Lodz today," said Miss 
Oliver, one December evening, when she, Mrs. Blythe 
and Susan were busy sewing or knitting in the cosy 
living room. *'This war is at least extending my 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 113 

knowledge of geography. Schoolma'am though I am, 
three months ago I didn't know there was such a place 
in the world as Lodz. Had I heard it mentioned I 
would have known nothing about it and cared as little. 
I know all about it now — its size, its standing, its mili- 
tary significance. Yesterday the news that the Ger- 
mans have captured it in their second rush to Warsaw 
made my heart sink into my boots. I woke up in the 
night and worried over it. I don't wonder babies 
always cry when they wake up in the night. Every- 
thing presses on my soul then and no cloud has a 
silver lining." 

" When / wake up in the night and cannot go to 
sleep again," remarked Susan, who was knitting and 
reading at the same time, " I pass the morhents by 
torturing the Kaiser to death. Last night I fried him 
in boiling oil and a great comfort it was to me, re- 
membering those Belgian babies." 

"If the Kaiser were here and had a pain in his 
shoulder you'd be the first to run for the liniment bot- 
tle to rub him down," laughed Miss Oliver. 

"Would I?" cried outraged Susan. "Would I, 
Miss Oliver? I would rub him down with coal oil, 
Miss Oliver — and leave it to blister. That is what I 
would do and that you may tie to. A pain in his 
shoulder, indeed! He will have pains all over him 
before he is through with what he has started." 

" We are told to love our enemies, Susan," said the 
doctor solemnly. 

" Yes, our enemies, but not King George's enemies, 
doctor dear," retorted Susan crushingly. She was so 
well pleased with herself over this flattening out of the 
doctor completely that she even smiled as she polished 



114 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

her glasses. Susan had never given in to glasses be- 
fore, but she had done so at last in order to be able 
to read the war news — and not a dispatch got by her. 
" Can you tell me, Miss Oliver, how to pronounce 
M-1-a-w-a and B-z-u-r-a and P-r-z-e-m-y-s-1 ? " 

" That last is a conundrum which nobody seems to 
have solved yet, Susan. And I can make only a guess 
at the others." 

"These foreign names are far from being decent, 
in my opinion," said disgusted Susan. 

" I daresay the Austrians and Russians would think 
Saskatchewan and Musquodoboit about as bad, Susan," 
said Miss Oliver. " The Serbians have done wonder- 
fully of late. They have captured Belgrade." 

" And sent the Austrian creatures packing across the 
Danube with a flea in their ear," said Susan with a 
relish, as she settled down to examine a map of Eastern 
Europe, prodding each locality with her knitting nee- 
dle to brand it on her memory. " Cousin Sophia said 
awhile ago that Serbia was done for, but I told her 
there was still such a thing as an over-ruling Provi- 
dence, doubt it who might. It says here that the 
slaughter was terrible. For all they were foreigners 
it is awful to think of so many men being killed, Mrs. 
Dr. dear — for they are scarce enough as it is." 

Rilla was upstairs relieving her over-charged feel- 
ings by writing in her diary. 

" Things have all ' gone catawampus,* as Susan says, 
with me this week. Part of it was my own fault and 
part of it wasn't, and I seem to be equally unhappy 
over both parts. 

" I went to town the other day to buy a new winter 
hat. It was the first time nobody insisted oh coming 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 115 

with me to help me select it, and I felt that mother had 
really given up thinking of me as a child. And I 
found the dearest hat — it was simply bewitching. 
It was a velvet hat, of the very shade of rich green 
that was made for me. It just goes with my hair and 
complexion beautifully, bringing out the red-brown 
shades and what Miss Oliver calls my * creaminess * so 
well. Only once before in my life have I come across 
that precise shade of green* When I was twelve I 
had a little beaver hat of it, and all the girls in school 
were wild over it. Well, as soon as I saw this hat I 
felt that I simply must have it — and have it I did. 
The price was dreadful. I will not put it down here 
because I don't want my descendants to know I was 
guilty of paying so much for a hat in war time, too, 
when everybody is — or should be — trying to be eco- 
nomical. 

" When I got home and tried on the hat again in 
my room I was assailed by qualms. Of course, it was 
very becoming; but somehow it seemed too elaborate 
and fussy for church going and our quiet little doings 
in the Glen — too conspicuous, in short. It hadn't 
seemed so at the milliner's but here in my little white 
room it did. And that dreadful price tag! And the 
starving Belgians! When mother saw the hat and 
the tag she just looked at me. Mother is some expert 
at looking. Father says she looked him into love with 
her years ago in Avonlea school and I can well believe 
it — though I have heard a weird tale of her banging 
him over the head with a slate at the very beginning 
of their acquaintance. Mother was a limb when she 
was a little girl, I understand, and even up to the time 
when Jem went away she was full of ginger. But let 



ii6 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

me return to my mutton — that is to say, my new green 
velvet hat. 

" ' Do you think, Rilla,' mother said quietly — far 
too quietly — ' that it was right to spend so much for a 
hat, especially just now when the need of the world is 
so great ? ' 

" ' I paid for it out of my own allowance, mother,* 
I exclaimed. 

" ' That is not the point. Your allowance is based 
on the principle of a reasonable amount for each thing 
you need. If you pay too much for one thing you 
must cut oflf somewhere else and that is not satisfac- 
tory. But if you think you did right, Rilla, I have no 
more to say. I leave it to your conscience.' 

" I wish mother would not leave things to my con- 
science ! And anyway, what was I to do ? I couldn't 
take that hat back — I had worn it to a concert in 
town — I had to keep it ! I was so uncomfortable that 
I flew into a temper — a cold, calm, deadly temper. 

" * Mother,' I said haughtily, ' I am sorry you dis- 
approve of my hat — ' 

" ' Not of the hat exactly,' said mother, ' though I 
consider it in doubtful taste for so young a girl — but 
of the price you paid for it.* 

" Being interrupted didn't improve my temper, so I 
went on, colder and calmer and deadlier than ever, just 
as if mother had not spoken, 

" * — but I have to keep it now. However, I prom- 
ise you that I will not get another hat for three years 
or for the duration of the war, if it lasts longer than 
that. Even you' — oh, the sarcasm I put into the 
' you ' — * cannot say that what I paid was too much 
when spread over at least three years.' 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 117 



(€ t 



You will be very tired of that hat before three 
years, Rilla,' said mother, with a provoking grin, which, 
being interpreted, meant that I wouldn't stick it out. 

" ' Tired or not, I will wear it that long,' I said : 
and then I marched upstairs and cried to think that I 
had been sarcastic to mother. 

'* I hate that hat already. But three years or the 
duration of the war, I said, and three years or the 
duration of the war it shall be. I vowed and I shall 
keep my vow, cost what it will. 

" That is one of the * catawampus ' things. The 
other is that I. have quarrelled with Irene Howard — 
or she quarrelled with me — or, no, we both quarrelled. 

" The Junior Red Cross met here yesterday. The 
hour of meeting was half past two but Irene came at 
half past one, because she got the chance of a drive 
down from the Upper Glen. Irene hasn't been a bit 
nice to me since the fuss about the eats ; and besides I 
feel sure she resents not being president. But I have 
been determined that things should go smoothly, so I 
have never taken any notice, and when she came yes- 
terday she seemed so nice and sweet again that I hoped 
she had got over her huffiness and we could be the 
chums we used to be. 

" But as soon as we sat down Irene began to rub me 
the wrong way. I saw her cast a look at my new knit- 
ting bag. All the girls have always said Irene was 
jealous-minded and I would never believe them be- 
fore. But now I feel that perhaps she is. 

" The first thing she did was to pounce on Jims — 
Irene pretends to adore babies — pick him out of his 
cradle and kiss him all over his face. Now, Irene 
knows perfectly well that I don't like to have Jims 



ii8 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

kissed like that. It is not hygienic. After she had 
worried him till he began to fuss, she looked at me 
and gave quite a nasty little laugh but she said, oh, so 
sweetly, 

" * Why, Rilla, darling, you look as if you thought 
I was poisoning the baby.' 

" ' Oh, no, I don't, Irene,' I said — every bit as 
sweetly, 'but you know Morgan says that the only 
place a baby should be kissed is on its forehead, for 
fear of germs, and that is my rule with Jims.' 

" ' Dear me, am I so full of germs ? ' said Irene plain- 
tively. I knew she was making fun of me and I began 
to boil inside — but outside no sign of a simmer. I 
was determined I would not scrap with Irene. 

" Then she began to bounce Jims. Now, Morgan 
says bouncing is almost the worst thing that can be 
done to a baby. I never allow Jims to be bounced. 
But Irene bounced him and that exasperating child 
liked it. He smiled — for the very first time. He is 
four months old and he has never smiled once before. 
Not even mother or Susan have been able to coax that 
thing to smile, try as they would. And here he was 
smiling because Irene Howard bounced him ! Talk of 
gratitude ! 

" I admit that smile made a big difference in him. 
Two of the dearest dimples came out in his cheeks and 
his big brown eyes seemed full of laughter. The way 
Irene raved over those dimples was silly, I consider. 
You would have supposed she thought she had really 
brought them into existence. But I sewed steadily and 
did not enthuse, and soon Irene got tired of bouncing 
Jims and put him back in his cradle. He did not like 
that after being played with, and he began to cry and 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 119 

was fussy the rest of the afternoon, whereas if Irene 
had only left him alone he would not have been a bit 
of trouble. Irene looked at him and said, 

"'Does he often cry like that?' — as if she had 
never heard a baby crying before. 

" I explained patiently that children have to cry so 
many minutes per day in order to expand their lungs. 
Morgan says so. 

" ' If Jims didn't cry at all I'd have to make him cry 
for at least twenty minutes,' I said. 

" * Oh, indeed! ' said Irene, laughing as if she didn't 
believe me. ' Morgan on the Gare of Infants ' was 
upstairs or I would soon have convinced hef. Then 
she said Jims didn't have much hair — she had never 
seen a four months' old baby so bald. 

"Of course, I knew Jims hadn't much hair — yet; 
Ijut Irene said it in a tone that seemed to imply it was 
my fault that he hadn't any hair. I said I had seen 
dozens of babies every bit as bald as Jims, and Irene 
said. Oh, very well, she hadn't meant to offend me — 
when I wasn't offended. 

" It went on like that the rest of the hour — Irene 
kept giving me little digs all the time. The girls have 
always said she was revengeful like that if she were 
peeved about anything ; but I never believed it before ; 
I used to think Irene just perfect, and it hurt me dread- 
fully to find she could stoop to this. But I corked up 
my feelings and s€wed away for dear life on a Belgian 
child's nightgown. 

" Then Irene told me the meanest, most contemptible 
thing that some one had said about Walter. I won't 
write it down — I can't. Of course, she said it made 
her furious to hear it and all that — but there was no 



120 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

need for her to tell me such a thing even if she did 
hear it. She simply did it to hurt me. 

" I just exploded. 

" ' How dare you come here and repeat such a thing 
to me about my brother, Irene Howard ? ' I exclaimed. ^ 
* I shall never forgive you — never. Your brother 
hasn't enlisted — hasn't any idea of enlisting.' 

" ' Why Rilla, dear, I didn't say it/ said Irene. ' I 
told you it was Mrs. George Burr. And / told her — ' 

" ' I don't want to hear what you told her. Don't 
you ever speak to me again, Irene Howard.' 

" Of course, I shouldn't have said that. But it just 
seemed to say itself. Then the other girls all came -in 
a bunch and I had to calm down and act the hostess' 
part as well as I could. Irene paired off with Olive 
Keith all the rest of the afternoon and went away with- 
out so much as a look. So I suppose she means to take 
me at my word and I don't care, for I do not want to 
be friends with a girl who could repeat such a false- 
hood about Walter. But I feel unhappy over it for all 
that. We've always been such good chums and until 
lately Irene was lovely to me ; and now another illusion 
has been stripped from my eyes and I feel as if there 
wasn't such a thing as real true friendship in the world. 

" Father got old Joe Mead to build a little kennel for 
Dog Monday in the comer of the shipping shed today. 
We thought perhaps Monday would come home when 
the cold weather came but he wouldn't. No earthly in- 
fluence can coax Monday away from that shed even for 
a few minutes. There he stays and meets every train. 
So we had to do something to make him comfortable. 
Joe built the kennel so that Monday could lie in it and 
still see the platform, so we hope he will occupy it. 



THE TROUBLES OF RILLA 121 

" Monday has become quite famous. A reporter of 
the Enterprise came out from town and photographed 
him and wrote up the whole story of his faithful vigil. 
It was published in the Enterprise and copied all over 
Canada. But that doesn't matter to poor little Mon- 
day, Jem has gone away — Monday doesn't know 
where or why — but he will wait until he comes back. 
Somehow it comforts me : it's foolish, I suppose, but 
it g^ves me a feeling that Jem will come back or else 
Monday wouldn't keep on waiting for him. 

" Jims is snoring beside me in his cradle. It is just 
a cold that makes him snore — not adenoids. Irene 
had a cold yesterday and I know she gave it to him, 
kissing him. He is not quite such a nuisance as he 
was; he has got some backbone and can sit up quite 
nicely, and he loves his bath now and splashes un- 
smilingly in the water instead of twisting and shriek- 
ing. Oh, shall I ever forget those first two months! 
I don't know how I lived through them. But here 
I am and here is Jims and we are both going to ' carry 
on.' I tickled him a little bit tonight when I undressed 
him — I wouldn't bounce him but Morgan doesn't 
mention tickling — just to see if he would smile for 
me as well as for Irene. And he did — and out 
popped the dimples. What a pity his mother couldn't 
have seen them! 

" I finished my sixth pair of socks today. With 
the first three I got Susan to set the heel for me. 
Then I thought that was a bit of shirking, so I learned 
to do it myself. I hate it — but I have done so many 
things I hate since the fourth of August that one more 
or less doesn't matter. I just think of Jem joking 
about the mtud on Salisbury Plain and I go at them." 



122 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



CHAPTER XI 
Dark and Bright 

AT Christmas the college boys and girls came home 
and for a little while Ingleside was gay again. 
But all were not there — for the first time one was 
missing from the circle around the Christmas table. 
Jem, of the steady lips and fearless eyes, was far away, 
and Rilla felt that the sight of his vacant chair was 
more than she could endure. Susan had taken a stub- 
born freak and insisted on setting out Jem's place for 
him as usual, with the twisted little napkin ring he had 
always had since a boy, and the odd, high Green Gables 
goblet which Aunt Marilla had once given him and 
from which he always insisted on drinking. 

"That blessed boy shall have his place, Mrs. Dr. 
dear," said Susan firmly, " and do not you feel over it, 
for you may be sure he is here in spirit and next Christ- 
mas he will be here in the body. Wait you till the Big 
Push comes in the spring and the war will be over in a 
jiffy." 

They tried to think so, but a shadow stalked in the 
background of their determined merrymaking. Wal- 
ter, too, was quiet and dull, all through the holidays. 
He showed Rilla a cruel, anonymous letter he had re- 
ceived at Redmond — a letter far more conspicuous for 
malice than for patriotic indignation. 

*' Nevertheless, all it says is true, Rilla." 

Rilla had caught it from him and thrown it into the 
fire. 



it 



DARK AND BRIGHT 123 

" There isn't one word of truth in it," she declared 
hotly. " Walter, youVe got morbid — as Miss Oliver 
says she gets when she broods too long over one thing." 

" I can't get away from it at Redmond, Rilla. The 
whole college is aflame over the war. A perfectly fit 
fellow, of military age, who doesn't join up is looked 
upon as a shirker and treated accordingly. Dr. Milne, 
the English professor, who has always made a special 
pet of me, has two sons in khaki ; and I can feel the 
change in his manner towards me." 
It's not fair — you're not fit" 
Physically I am. Sound as a bell. The unfitness 
is in the soul and it's a taint and a disgrace. There, 
don't cry, Rilla. I'm not going if that's what you're 
afraid of. The Piper's music rings in my ears day 
and night — but I cannot follow." 

" You would break mother's heart and mine if you 
did," sobbed Rilla. " Oh, Walter, one is enough for 
any family." 

The holidays were an unhappy time for her. Still, 
having Nan and Di and Walter and Shirley home 
helped in the enduring of things. A letter and book 
came for her from Kenneth Ford, too ; some sentences 
in the letter made her cheeks burn and her heart beat — 
until the last paragraph, which sent an icy chill over 
everything. 

" My ankle is about as good as new. I'll be fit to 
join up in a couple of months more, Rilla-my-Rilla. 
It will be some feeling to get into khaki all right. Lit- 
tle Ken will be able to look the whole world in the 
face then and owe not any man. It's been rotten 
lately, since I've been able to walk without limping. 
People who don't know look at me as much as to say 



it 



124 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

' Slacker ! ' Well, they won't have the chance to look 
it much longer." 

" I hate this war/' said Rilla bitterly, as she gazed 
out into the maple grove that was a chill glory of pink 
and gold in the winter sunset. 

" Nineteen-fourteen has gone," said Dr. Bl)rthe on 
New Year's Day. " Its sun, which rose fairly, has set 
in blood. What will nineteen fifteen bring? " 
Victory ! " said Susan, for once laconic. 
Do you really believe we'll win the war, Susan? " 
said Miss Oliver drearily. She had come over from 
Lowbridge to spend the day and see Walter and the 
girls before they went back to Redmond. She was in 
a rather blue and cynical mood and inclined to look on 
the dark side. 

" * Believe ' we'll win the war ! " exclaimed Susan. 
" No, Miss Oliver, dear, I do not believe — I know. 
That does not worry me. What does worry me is the 
trouble and expense of it all. But then you cannot 
make omelets without breaking eggs, so we must just 
trust in God and make big guns." 

" Sometimes I think the big guns are better to trust 
in than God," said Miss Oliver defiantly. 

" No, no, dear, you do not. The Germans had the 
big guns at the Mame, had they not ? But Providence 
settled them. Do not ever forget that. Just hold on 
to that when you feel inclined to doubt. Clutch hold 
of the sides of your chair and sit tight and keep 
saying, ' Big guns are good but the Almighty is better, 
and He is on our side, no matter what the Kaiser says 
about it.' I would have gone crazy many a day lately, 
Miss Oliver, dear, if I had not sat tight and repeated 
that to myself. My cousin Sophia is, like you, some- 



DARK AND BRIGHT 125 

what inclined to despond. ' Oh, dear me, what will we 
do if the Germans ever get here,' she wailed to me yes- 
terday. ' Bury them,' said I, just as off-hand as that 
' There is plenty of room for the graves.' Cousin 
Sophia said that I was flippant but I was not flippant. 
Miss Oliver, dear, only calm and confident in the 
British navy and our Canadian boys. I am like old 
Mr. William Pollock of the Harbour Head. He is 
very old and has been ill for a long time, and one night 
last week he was so low that his daughter-in-law whis- 
pered to some one that she thought he was dead. 
*Dam it, I ain't,' he called right out — only, Miss 
Oliver, dear, he did not use so mild a word as ' dam * 
— * dam it, I ain't, and I don't mean to die until the 
Kaiser is well licked.' Now, thatj Miss Oliver, dear,*' 
concluded Susan, " is the kind of spirit I admire." 

" I admire it but I can't emulate it," sighed Ger- 
trude. " Before this, I have always been able to 
escape from the hard things of life for a little while 
by going into dreamland, and coming back like a giant 
refreshed. But I can't escape from this.^^ 

" Nor I," said Mrs. Blythe. " I hate going to bed 
now. All my life I've liked going to bed, to have a 
gay, mad, splendid half hour of imagining things be- 
fore sleeping. Now I imagine them still. But such 
different things." 

''/ am rather glad when the time comes to go to 
bed," said Miss Oliver. " I like the darkness because 
I can be myself in it — I needn't smile or talk bravely. 
But sometimes my imagination gets out of hand, too, 
and I see what you do — terrible things — terrible 
years to come." 

" I am very thankful that I never had any imagina- 



126 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

tion to speak of," said Susan. " I have been spared 
that. I see by this paper that the Crown Prince is 
killed again. Do you suppose there is any hope of his 
staying dead this time ? And I also see that Woodrow 
Wilson is going to write another note. I wonder," 
concluded Susan, with the bitter irony she had of late 
begun to use when referring to the poor President, 
** if that man's schoolmaster is alive." 

In January Jims was five months old and Rilla 
celebrated the anniversary by shortening him. 

" He weighs fourteen pounds," she announced jubi- 
lantly. "Just exactly what he should weigh at five 
months, acocrding to Morgan." 

There was no longer any doubt in anybody's mind 
that Jims was getting positively pretty. His little 
cheeks were round and firm and faintly pink, his eyes 
were big and bright, his tiny paws had dimples at the 
root of every finger. He had even begun to grow hair, 
much to Rilla's unspoken relief. There was a pale 
golden fuzz all over his head which was distinctly vis- 
ible in some lights. He was a good infant, generally 
sleeping and digesting as Morgan decreed. Occasion- 
ally he smiled but he had never laughed, in spite of 
all efforts to make him. This worried Rilla also, be- 
cause Morgan said that babies usually laughed aloud 
from the third to the fifth month. Jims was five and 
had no notion of laughing. Why hadn't he ? Wasn't 
he normal ? 

One night Rilla came home late from a recruiting 
meeting at the Glen where she had been giving patri- 
otic recitations. Rilla had never been willing to re- 
cite in public before. She was afraid of her tendency 
to lisp, which had a habit of reviving if she were doing 



DARK AND BRIGHT 127 

anything that made her nervous. When she had first 
been asked to recite at the Upper Glen meeting she had 
refused. Then she began to worry over her refusal. 
Was it cowardly? What would Jem think if he knew? 
After two days of worry Rilla 'phoned to the presi- 
dent of the Patriotic Society that she would recite. 
She did, and lisped several times, and lay awake most 
of the night in an agony of wounded vanity. Then 
two nights after she recited again at Harbour Head. 
She had been at Lowbridge and over-harbour since 
then and had become resigned to an occasional lisp. 
Nobody except herself seemed to mind it. And she 
was so earnest and appealing and shining-eyed ! More 
than one recruit joined up because Rilla's eyes seemed 
to look right at him when she passionately demanded 
how could men die better than fighting for the ashes of 
their fathers and the temples of their gods, or assured 
her audience with thrilling intensity that one crowded 
hour of glorious life was worth an age without a name. 
Even stolid Miller Douglas was so fired one night that 
it took Mary Vance a good hour to talk him back to 
sense. Mary Vance said bitterly that if Rilla Blythe 
felt as bad as she had pretended to feel over Jem's 
going to the front she wouldn't be urging other girls' 
brothers and friends to go. 

On this particular night Rilla was tired and cold 
and very thankful to creep into her warm nest and 
cuddle down between her blankets, though as usual 
with a sorrowful wonder how Jem and Jerry were far- 
ing. She was just getting warm and drowsy when 
Jims suddenly began to cry — and kept on crying. 

Rilla curled herself up in her bed and determined she 
would let him cry. She had Morgan behind her for 



128 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

justification. Jims was warm, physically comfortable 
— his cry wasn't the cry of pain — and had his little 
tummy as full as was good for him. Under such cir- 
cumstances it would be simply spoiling him to fuss over 
him, and she wasn't going to do it. He could cry 
until he got good and tired and ready to go to sleep 
again. 

Then Rilla*s imagination began to torment her. 
Suppose, she thought, I was a tiny, helpless creature 
only five months old, with my father somewhere in 
France and my poor little mother, who had been so 
worried about me, in the graveyard. Suppose I was 
lying in a basket in a big, black room, without one 
speck of light, and nobody within miles of me, for all 
I could see or know. Suppose there wasn't a human 
being anywhere who loved me — for a father who had 
never seen me couldn't love me very much, especially 
when he had never written a word to or about me. 
Wouldn't I cry, too? Wouldn't I feel just so lonely 
and forsaken and frightened that I'd have to cry ? 

Rilla hopped out. She picked Jims out of his basket 
and took him into her own bed. His hands were cold, 
poor mite. But he had promptly ceased to cry. And 
then, as she held him close to her in the darkness, sud- 
denly Jims laughed — a real, gurgly, chuckly, de- 
lighted, delightful laugh. 

" Oh, you dear little thing ! " exclaimed Rilla. 
"Are you so pleased at finding you're not all alone, 
lost in a huge, big, black room? " Then she knew she 
wanted to kiss him and she did. She kissed his silky, 
scented little head, she kissed his chubby little cheek, 
she kissed his little cold hands. She wanted to squeeze 
him — to cuddle him, just as she used to squeeze and 



DARK AND BRIGHT 129 

cuddle her kittens. Something delightful and yearn- 
ing and brooding seemed to have taken possession of 
her. She had never felt like this before. 

In a few minutes Jims was sound asleep; and, as 
Rilla listened to his soft, regular breathing and felt the 
little body warm and contented against her, she realized 
that — at last — she loved her war-baby. 

" He has got to be — such — a — darling," she 
thought drowsily, as she drifted oflf to slumberland 
herself. 

In February Jem and Jerry and Robert Grant were 
in the trenches and a little more tension and dread was 
added to the Ingleside life. In March ** Yiprez " as 
Susan called it, had come to have a bitter significance. 
The daily list of casualties had begun to appear in the 
papers and no one at Ingleside ever answered the tele- 
phone without a horrible cold shrinking — for it might 
be the station master 'phoning up to say a telegram had 
come from overseas. No one at Ingleside ever got up 
in the morning without a sudden piercing wonder over 
what the day might bring. 

" And I used to welcome the mornings so," thought 
Rilla. 

Yet the round of life and duty went steadily on 
and every week or so some one else went into khaki 
from the Glen lads who had just the other day been 
rollicking schoolboys. 

" It is bitter cold out tonight, Mrs. Dr. dear," said 
Susan, coming in out of the clear starlit crispness of 
the Canadian winter twilight. " I wonder if the boys 
in the trenches are warm." 

" How everything comes back to this war," cried 
Gertrude Oliver. " We can't get away from it — not 



130 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

even when we talk of the weather. I never go out 
these dark cold nights myself without thinking of the 
men in the trenches — not only our men but every- 
body's men. I would feel the same if there were no- 
body I knew at the front. When I snuggle down in 
my comfortable bed I am ashamed of being comfort- 
able. It seems as if it were wicked of me to be so 
when many are not.*' 

" I saw Mrs. Meredith down at the store," said 
Susan, " and she tells me that they are really troubled 
over Bruce, he takes things so much to heart. He has 
cried himself to sleep for a week over the starving 
Belgians. 'Oh, mother,' he will say to her, so be- 
seeching-like, * surely the babies are never hungry — 
oh, not the babies, mother ! Just say the babies are not 
hungry, mother.' And she cannot say it because it 
would not be true, and she is at her wits' end. They 
try to keep such things from him but he finds them 
out and then they cannot comfort him. It breaks my 
heart to read about them myself, Mrs. Dr. dear, and 
I cannot console my sel f with the thought that the tales 
are not true. When I read a novel that makes me 
want to weep I just say severely to myself, ' Now, 
Susan Baker, you know that is all a pack of lies.' But 
we must carry on. Jack Crawford says he is going to 
the war because he is tired of farming. I hope he will 
find it a pleasant change. And Mrs. Richard Elliott 
over-harbour is worrying herself sick because she used 
to be always scolding her husband about smoking up the 
parlour curtains. Now that he has enlisted she wishes 
she had never said a word to him. You know Josiah 
Cooper and William Daley, Mrs. Dr. dear. They used 
to be fast friends but they quarrelled twenty years ago 



DARK AND BRIGHT 131 

and have never spoken since. Well, the other day 
Josiah went to William and said right out, ' Let us be 
friends. 'Tain't any time to be holding grudges/ 
William was real glad and held out his hand, and they 
sat down for a good talk. And in less than half an 
hour they had quarrelled again, over how the war 
ought to be fought, Josiah holding that the Dardanelles 
expedition was rank folly and William maintaining 
that it was the one sensible thing the Allies had done. 
And now they are madder at each other than ever and 
William says Josiah is as bad a pro-German as Whis- 
kers-on-the-Moon. Whiskers vows he is no pro-Ger- 
man but calls himself a pacifist, whatever that may be, 
Mrs. Dr. dear. It is nothing proper or Whiskers 
would not be it and that you may tie to. He says that 
the big British victory at New Chapelle cost more 
than it was worth and he has forbid Joe Milgrave to 
come near the house because Joe ran up his father's 
flag when the news came. Have you noticed, Mrs. 
Dr. dear, that the Czar has changed that Prish name to 
Premysl, which proves that the man had good sense, 
Russian though he is? Joe Vickers told me in the 
store that he saw a very queer looking thing in the 
sky tonight over Lowbridge way. Do you suppose 
it could have been a Zeppelin Mrs. Dr. dear? " 
" I do not think it very likely, Susan." 
" Well, I would feel easier about it if Whiskers-on- 
the-Moon were not living in the Glen. They say he 
was seen going through strange manoeuvres with a 
lantern in his back yard one night lately. Some peo- 
ple think he was signalling." 
" To whom — or what ? " 
" Ah, that is the mystery, Mrs. Dr. dear. In my 



132 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

opinion the Government would do well to keep an eye 
on that man if it does not want us to be all murdered 
in our beds some night. Now I shall just look over 
the papers a minute before going to write a letter to 
little Jem. Two things I never did, Mrs. Dr. dear, 
were write letters and read politics. Yet here I am 
doing both regular and I find there is something in pol- 
itics after all. Whatever Woodrow Wilson means I 
cannot fathom but I am hoping I will puzzle it out 
yet." 

Susan, in her pursuit of Wilson and politics, pres- 
ently came upon something that disturbed her and ex- 
claimed in a tone of bitter disappointment, 

That devilish Kaiser has only a boil after all." 
Don't swear, Susan," said Dr. Blythe, pulling a 
long face. 

" ' Devilish ' is not swearing, doctor, dear. I have 
always understood that swearing was taking the name 
of the Almighty in vain? " 

" Well, it isn't — ahem — refined," said the doctor, 
winking at Miss Oliver. 

" No, doctor, dear, the devil and the Kaiser — if so 
be that they are really two different people — are not 
refined. And you cannot refer to them in a refined 
way. So I abide by what I said, although you may 
notice that I am careful not to use such expressions 
when young Rilla is about. And I maintain that the 
papers have no right to say that the Kaiser has pneu- 
monia and raise people's hopes, and then come out 
and say he has nothing but a boil. A boil, indeed! 
I wish he was covered with them." 

Whereupon Susan stalked out to the kitchen and 
settled down to write to Jem ; deeming him in need of 



ft 
it 



i 

t 



DARK AND BRIGHT 133 

home comfort from certain passages in his letter that 
day. 

" We're in an old wine cellar tonight, dad," he 
wrote, " in water to our knees. Rats everywhere — 
no fire — a drizzling rain coming down — rather dis- 
mal. But it might be worse. I got Susan's box to- 
day and everything was in tip-top order and we had a 
feast. Jerry is up the line somewhere and he says the 
rations are rather worse than Aunt Martha's ditto used 
to be. But here they're not bad — only monotonous. 
Tell Susan I'd give a year's pay for a good batch of her 
monkey-f aces ; but don't let that inspire her to send 
any for they wouldn't keep. 

"We have been under fire since the last week in 
February. One boy — he was a Nova Scotian — was 
killed right beside me yesterday. A shell burst near 
us and when the muss cleared away he was lying dead 
— not mangled at all — he just looked a little startled. 
It was the first time I'd been close to anything like 
that and it was a nasty sensation, but one soon gets 
used to horrors here. We're in an absolutely different 
world. The only things that are the same are the 
stars — and they are never ia their right places, some- 
how. 

" Tell mother not to worry — I'm all right — fit as 
a fiddle — and glad I came. There's something across 
from us here that has got to be wiped out of the world, 
that's all — an emanation of evil that would other- 
wise poison life forever. It's got to be done, dad, 
however long it takes, and whatever it costs, and you 
tell the Glen people this for me. They don't realize 
yet what it is that has broken loose — I didn't when I 
first joined up. I thought it was fun. Well, it isn't ! 



134 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

But Tm in the right place all right — make no mistake 
about that. When I saw what had been done here to 
homes and gardens and people — well, dad, I seemed 
to see a gang of Huns marching through Rainbow Val- 
ley and the Glen, and the garden at Ingleside. There 
were gardens over here — beautiful gardens with the 
beauty of centuries — and what are they now? Man- 
gled, desecrated things! We are fighting to make 
those dear old places where we had played as children, 
safe for other boys and girls — fighting for the pres- 
ervation and safety of all sweet, wholesome things. 

" Whenever any of you go to the station be sure to 
give Dog Monday a double pat for me. Fancy the 
faithful little beggar waiting there for me like that! 
Honestly, dad, on some of these dark cold nights in 
the trenches, it heartens and braces me up to no end to 
think that thousands of miles away at the old Glen 
station there is a small spotted dog sharing my vigil. 

" Tell Rilla Fm glad her war baby is turning out so 
well, and tell Susan that Fm fighting a good fight 
against both Huns and cooties." 

" Mrs. Dr. Dear,*' whispered Susan solemnly, " what 
are cooties ? " 

Mrs. Blythe whispered back and then said in reply 
to Susan's horrified ejaculations, " It's always like that 
in the trenches, Susan." 

Susan shook her head and went away in grim silence 
to re-open a parcel she had sewed up for Jem and slip 
in a fine tooth comb. 



IN THE DAYS OF LANGEMARCK 135 



CHAPTER XII 
In the Days of Langemarck 

HOW can spring come and be beautiful in such a 
horror/' wrote Rilla in her diary. " When the 
sun shines and the fluffy yellow catkins are coming out 
on the willow trees down by the brook, and the garden 
is beginning to be beautiful I can't realize that such 
dreadful things are happening in Flanders. But they 
are! 

" This past week has been terrible for us all, since 
the news came of the fighting around Ypres and the 
battles of Langemarck and St. Julien. Our Canadian 
boys have done splendidly — General French says they 
' saved the situation,' when the Germans had all but 
broken through. But I can't feel pride or exultation 
or anything but a gnawing anxiety over Jem and Jerry 
and Mr. Grant. The casualty lists are coming out in 
the papers every day — oh, there are so many of them. 
I can't bear to read them for fear I'd find Jem's name 
— for there have been cases where people have seen 
their boys' names in the casualty lists before the official 
telegram came. As for the telephone, for a day or two 
I just refused to answer it, because I thought I could 
not endure the horrible moment that came between say- 
ing ' Hello ' and hearing the response. That moment 
seemed a hundred years long, for I was always dread- 
ing to hear ' There is a telegram for Dr. Blythe', 
Then, when I had shirked for a while, I was ashamed 
of leaving it all for mother or Susan, and now I tnake 
myself go. But it never gets any easier. Gertrude 



136 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

teaches school and reads compositions and sets exam- 
ination papers just as she always has done, but I know 
her thoughts are over in Flanders all the time. Her 
eyes haunt me. 

" And Kenneth is in khaki now, too. He has got a 
lieutenant's commission and expects to go overseas in 
mid-summer, so he wrote me. There wasn't much 
else in the letter — he seemed to be thinking of noth- 
ing but going overseas. I shall not see him again be- 
fore he goes — perhaps I will never see him again. 
Sometimes I ask myself if that evening at Four Winds 
was all a dream. It might as well be — it seems as if 
it happened in another life lived years ago — and 
everybody has forgotten it but me. 

** Walter and Nan and Di came home last night from 
Redmond. When Walter stepped oflF the train Dog 
Monday rushed to meet him, frantic with joy. I sup- 
pose he thought Jiem would be there, too. After the 
first moment, he paid no attention to Walter and his 
pats, but just stood there, wagging his tail nervously 
and looking past Walter at the other people coming 
out, with eyes that made me choke up, for I couldn't 
help thinking that, for all we knew, Monday might 
never see Jem come off that train again. Then, when 
all the people were out, Monday looked up at Walter, 
gave his hand a little lick as if to say, ' I know it isn't 
your fault he didn't come — excuse me for feeling dis- 
appointed,* and then he trotted back to his shed, with 
that funny little sidelong waggle of his which always 
makes it seem that his hind legs are travelling directly 
away from the point at which his forelegs are aiming. 

" We tried to coax him home with us — Di even got 
down and kissed him between the eyes and said, * Mon- 



IN THE DAYS OF LANGEMARCK 137 

day, old duck, won't you come up with us just for the 
evening? ' And Monday said — he did! — ' I am 
very sorry but I can't. I've got a date to meet Jem 
here, you know, and there's a train goes through at 
eight.' 

" It's lovely to have Walter back again though he 
seems quiet and sad, just as he was at Christmas. But 
I 'm going to love him hard and cheer him up and make 
him laugh as he used to. It seems to me that every 
day of my life Walter means more to me. 

" The other evening Susan happened to say that the 
mayflowers were out in Rainbow Valley. I chanced to 
be looking at mother when Susan spoke. Her face 
changed and she gave a queer little choked cry. Most 
of the time mother is so spunky and gay you would 
never guess what she feels inside ; but now and then 
some little thing is too much for her and we see under 
the surface. * Mayflowers ! ' she said. * Jem brought 
me mayflowers last year ! ' and she got up and went 
out of the room. I would have rushed off to Rainbow 
Valley and brought her an armful of mayflowers, but 
I knew that wasn't what she wanted. And after Wal- 
ter got home last night he slipped away to the valley 
and brought mother home all the mayflowers he could 
find. Nobody had said a word to him about it — he 
just remembered himself that Jem used to bring mother 
the first mayflowers and so he brought them in Jem's 
place. It shows how tender and thoughtful he is. 
And yet there are people who send him cruel letters ! 

" It seems strange that we can go on with ordinary 
life just as if nothing were happening overseas that 
concerned us, just as if any day might not bring us 
awful news. But we can and do. Susan is putting in 



138 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the garden, and mother and she are housecleaning, and 
we Junior Reds are getting up a concert in aid of the 
Belgians. We have been practising for a month and 
having no end of trouble and bother with cranky peo- 
ple. Miranda Pryor promised to help with a dialogue 
and when she had her part all learned her father put 
his foot down and refused to allow her to help at all. 
I am not blaming Miranda exactly, but I do think she 
might have a little more spunk sometimes. If she put 
her foot down once in a while she might bring her 
father to terms, for she is all the housekeeper he has 
and what would he do if she ' struck' ? If / were in 
Miranda's shoes I'd find some way of managing 
Whiskers-on-the-moon — yea, verily, I would horse- 
whip him — or bite him, if nothing else would serve. 
But Miranda is a meek and obedient daughter whose 
days should be long in the land. 

" I couldn't get any one else to take the part, because 
nobody liked it, so I finally had to take it myself. 
Olive Keith is on the concert committee and goes 
against me in every single thing. But I got my way 
in asking Mrs. Channing to come out from town and 
sing for us, anyhow. She is a beautiful singer and 
will draw such a crowd that we will make more than we 
will have to pay her. Olive Keith thought our * local 
talent ' good enough and Minnie Clow won't sing at 
all now in the choruses because she would be *so 
nervous' before Mrs. Channing. And Minnie is the 
only good alto we have ! There are times when I am 
so exasperated that I feel tempted to wash my hands of 
the whole affair ; but after I dance around my room a 
few times in sheer rage I cool down and have another 
whack at it. Just at present I am racked with worry 



IN THE DAYS OF LANGEMARCK 139 

for fear the Isaac Reese's are taking whooping cough. 
They have all got a dreadful cold and there are five of 
them who have important parts in the program and if 
they go and develop whooping cough what shall I do ? 
Dick Reese's violin solo is to be one of our titbits and 
Kit Reese is in every tableau and the three small girls 
have the cutest flag drill. I've been toiling for weeks 
to train them in it, and now it seems likely that all my 
trouble will go for nothing. 

" Jims cut his first tooth today. I am very glad, 
for he is nearly nine months old and Mary Vance has 
been insinuating that he is awfully backward about cut- 
ting his teeth. He has begun to creep but he doesn't 
crawl as most babies do. He trots about on all fours 
and carries things in his mouth like a little dog. No- 
body can say he isn't up to schedule time in the mat- 
ter of creeping anyway — away ahead of it indeed, 
since ten months is Morgan's average for creeping. 
He is so cute, it will be a shame if his dad never sees 
him. His hair is coming on nicely too, and I am not 
without hope that it will be curly. 

*' Just for a few minutes, while I've been writing of 
Jims and the concert, I've forgotten Ypres and the 
poison gas and the casualty lists. Now it all rushes 
back, worse than ever. Oh, if we could just know 
that Jem is all right! I used to be so furious with 
Jem when he called me ' Spider.' And now, if he 
would just come whistling through the hall and call 
out, * Hello, Spider,* as he used to do, I would think it 
the loveliest name in the world." 

Rilla put away her diary and went out to the garden. 
The spring evening was very lovely. The long, green, 
seaward-looking glen was filled with dusk, and beyond 



140 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

it were meadows of sunset. The harbour was radiant, 
purple here, azure there, opal elsewhere. The maple 
grove was beginning to be misty green. Rilla looked 
about her with wistful eyes. Who said that spring 
was the joy of the year? It was the heart-break of the 
year. And all the pale-purply mornings and the daf- 
fodil stars and the wind in the old pine were so many 
separate pangs of the heart-break. Would life ever 
be free from dread again? 

" It's good to see a P. E. I. twilight once more," said 
Walter, joining her. " I didn't really remember that 
the sea was so blue and the roads so red and the wood 
nooks so wild and fairy haunted. Yes, the fairies 
still abide here. I vow I could find scores of them 
under the violets in Rainbow Valley." 

Rilla was momentarily happy. This sounded like 
the Walter of yore. She hoped he was forgetting cer- 
tain things that had troubled him. 

" And isn't the sky blue over Rainbow Valley ? '* she 
said, responding to his mood. '* Blue — blue — you'd 
have to say * blue ' a hundred times before you could 
express how blue it is." 

Susan wandered by, her head tied up with a shawl, 
her hands full of garden implements. Doc, stealthy 
and wild-eyed, was shadowing her steps among the 
spirea bushes. 

" The sky may be blue," said Susan, " but that cat 
has been Hyde all day so we will likely have rain to- 
night and by the same token I have rheumatism in my 
shoulder." 

" It may rain — but don't think rheumatism, Susan 
— think violets," said Walter gaily — rather too gaily, 
Rilla thought. 



IN THE DAYS OF LANGEMARCK 141 

Susan considered him unsympathetic. 

"Indeed, Walter dear, I do not know what you 
mean by thinking violets," she responded stiffly, " and 
rheumatism is not a thing to be joked about, as you 
may some day realize for yourself. I hope I am not 
of the kind that is always complaining of their aches 
and pains, especially now when the news is so terrible. 
Rheumatism is bad enough but I realize, and none bet- 
ter, that it is not to be compared to being gassed by 
the Huns.'' 

" Oh, my God, no ! '* exclaimed Walter passionately. 
He turned and went back to the house. 

Susan shook her head. She disapproved entirely of 
such ejaculations. ** I hope he will not let his mother 
hear him talking like that," she thought as she stacked 
her hoes and rakes away. 

Rilla was standing among the budding daffodils 
with tear-filled eyes. Her evening was spoiled; she 
detested Susan, who had somehow hurt Walter; and 
Jem — had Jem been gassed ? Had he died in torture ? 

" I can't endure this suspense any longer," said Rilla 
desperately. 

But she endured it as the others did for another 
week. Then a letter came from Jem. He was all 
right. 

" I've come through without a scratch, dad. Don't 
know how I or any of us did it. You'll have seen all 
about it in the papers — I can't write of it. But the 
Huns haven't got through — they won't get through. 
Jerry was knocked stiff by a shell one time, but it was 
only the shock. He was all right in a few days. 
Grant is safe, too." 

Nan had a letter from Jerry Meredith. *' I came 



142 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

back to consciousness at dawn," he wrote. " Couldn't 
tell what had happened to me but thought I was done 
for. I was all alone and afraid — terribly afraid. 
Dead men were all around me, lying on the horrible 
grey, slimy fields. I was woefully thirsty — and I 
thought of David and the Bethlehem water — and of 
the old spring in Rainbow Valley under the maples. I 
seemed to see it just before me — and you standing 
laughing on the other side of it — and I thought it was 
all over with me. And I didn't care. Honestly, I 
didn't care. I just felt a dreadful childish fear of the 
loneliness and of all those dead men around me, and a 
sort of wonder how this could have happened to me. 
Then they found me and carted me off and before long 
I discovered that there wasn't really anything wrong 
with me. I'm going back to the trenches tomorrow. 
Every man is needed there that can be got." 

"Laughter is gone out of the world," said Faith 
Meredith, who had come over to report on her letters. 
" I remember telling old Mrs. Taylor long ago that the 
world was a world of laughter. But it isn't so any 
longer." 

" It's a shriek of anguish," said Gertrude Oliver. 

" We must keep a little laughter, girls," said Mrs. 
Blythe. " A good laugh is as good as a prayer some- 
times — only sometimes," she added under her breath. 
She had found it very hard to laugh during the three 
weeks she had just lived through — she, Anne Blythe, 
to whom laughter had always come so easily and 
freshly. And what hurt most was that Rilla's laughter 
had grown so rare — Rilla whom she used to think 
^laughed over-much. Was all the child's girlhood to' 
be so clouded? Yet how strong and clever and 



A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE 143 

womaniy she was growing! How patiently she knit 
atid sewed and manipulated those uncertain Junior 
Reds ! And how wonderful she was with Jims. 

" She really could not do better for that child than 
if she had raised a baker's dozen, Mrs. Dr. dear/' 
Susan had avowed solemnly. " Little did I ever ex- 
pect it of her on the day she landed in here with that 
soup tureen." 



CHAPTER XIII 
A Slice of Humble Pie 

I AM very much afraid, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, 
who had been on a pilgrimage to the station with 
some choice bones for Dog Monday, " that something 
terrible has happened. Whiskers-on-the-moon came 
oflf the train from Charlottetown and he was looking 
pleased. I do not remember that I ever saw him with 
a smile on in public before. Of course he may have 
just been getting the better of somebody in a cattle 
deal but I have an awful presentiment that the Huns 
have broken through somewhere." 

Perhaps Susan was unjust in connecting Mr. Pryor's 
smile with the sinking of the Ltisitania, news of which 
circulated an hour later when the mail was distributed. 
But the Glen boys turned out that night in a body and 
broke all his windows in a fine frenzy of indignation 
over the Kaiser's doings. 



144 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

" I do not say they did right and I do not say they 
did wrong," said Susan, when she heard of it. " But 
I will say that I would not have minded throwing a 
few stones myself. One thing is certain — Whiskers- 
on-the-moon said in the post office the day the news 
came, in the presence of witnesses, that folks who 
could not stay home after they had been warned de- 
served no better fate. That man, Mrs. Dr. dear, may 
be and is a member of our session, but I know one 
thing. If I was dead and he came to my funeral I 
would rise up and order him out. Norman Douglas 
is fairly foaming at the mouth over it all. ' If the 
devil doesn't get those men who sunk the Lusitania 
then there is no use in their being a devil,' he was 
shouting in Carter's store last night. Norman Doug- 
las always has believed that anybody who opposed him 
was on the side of the devil, but a man like that is bound 
to be right once in a while. Bruce Meredith is worry- 
ing over the babies who were drowned. And it seems 
he prayed for something very special last Friday night 
and didn't get it, and was feeling quite disgruntled over 
it. But when he heard about the Lusitania he told his 
mother that he understood now why God didn't answer 
his prayer — He was too busy attending to the souls of 
all the people who went down on the Lusitania. That 
child's brain is a hundred years older than his body, 
Mrs. Dr. dear. As for the Lusitania, it is an awful 
occurrence, whatever way you look at it. But Wood- 
row Wilson is going to write a note about it, so why 
worry? A pretty president! " and Susan banged her 
pots about wrathfully. President Wilson was rapidly 
becoming anathema in Susan's kitchen. 

Mary Vance dropped in one evening to tell the Ingle- 



A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE 145 

side folks that she had withdrawn all opposition to 
Miller Douglas' enlisting. 

" This Lusitania business was too much for me/' 
said Mary brusquely. "When the Kaiser takes to 
drowning innocent babies it's high time somebody told 
him where he gets off at. This thing must be fought 
to a finish. It's been soaking into my mind slow but 
I'm on now. So I up and told Miller he could go as 
far as I was concerned. Old Kitty Alec won't be con- 
verted though. If every ship in the world was sub- 
marined and every baby drowned, Kitty wouldn't turn 
a hair. But I flatter myself that it was me kept Mil- 
ler back all along and not the fair Kitty. I may have 
deceived myself — but we shall see." 

They did see. The next Sunday Miller Douglas 
walked into the Glen Church beside Mary Vance in 
khaki. And Mary was so proud of him that her white 
eyes fairly blazed. Joe Milgrave, back under the gal- 
lery, looked at Miller and Mary and then at Miranda 
Pryor, and sighed so heavily that every one within a 
radius of three pews heard him and knew what his 
trouble was. Walter Blythe did not sigh. But Rilla, 
scanning his face anxiously, saw a look that cut her 
to the heart. It haunted her for the next week and 
made an tindercurrent of soreness in her soul, which 
was externally being harrowed up by the near approach 
of the Red Cross concert and the worries connected 
therewith. The Reese cold had not developed into 
whooping cough, so that tangle was straightened out. 
But other thing^ were hanging in the balance; and on 
the very day before the concert came a regretful letter 
from Mrs. Channing saying that she could not come to 
sing. Her son, who was in Kingsport with his regi- 



146 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ment, was seriously ill with pneumonia, and she must 
go to him at once. 

The members of the concert committee looked at 
each other in blank dismay. What was to be done? 

" This comes of depending on outside help," said 
Olive Kirk, disagreeably. 

** We must do something," said Rilla, too desperate 
to care for Olive's manner. " We've advertised the 
concert everywhere — and crowds are coming — 
there's even a big party coming out from town — and 
we were short enough of music as it was. We must 
get some one to sing in Mrs. Channing's place." 

" I don't know who you can get at this late date," 
«aid Olive. " Irene Howard could do it ; but it is not 
likely she will after the way she was insulted by our 
society." 

" How did our society insult her ? " asked Rilla, in 
what she called her * cold, pale tone.' Its coldness and 
pallor did not daunt Olive. 

" You insulted her," she answered sharply. " Irene 
told me all about it — she was literally heart-broken. 
You told her never to speak to you again — and Irene 
told me she simply could not imagine what she had 
said or done to deserve such treatment. That was 
why she never came to our meetings again but joined 
in with the Lowbridge Red Cross. I do not blame 
her in the least, and I, for one, will not ask her to lower 
herself by helping us out of this scrape." 

"You don't expect me to ask her?" giggled Amy 
MacAllister, the other member of the committee. 
" Irene and I haven't spoken for a hundred years. 
Irene is always getting ' insulted ' by somebody. But 
she t^ a lovely singer, I'll admit that, and people 



A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE 147 

would just as soon hear her as Mrs*. Channing." 

" It wouldn't do any good if you did ask her," said 
Olive significantly. " Soon after we began planning 
this concert, back in April; I met Irene in town one day 
and asked her if she wouldn't help us out. She said 
she'd love to but she really didn't see how she could 
when Rilla Blythe was running the program, after the 
strange way Rilla had behaved to her. So there it is 
and here we are, and a nice failure our concert will be." 

Rilla went home- and shut herself up in her room, 
her soul in a turmoil. She would not humiliate her- 
self by apologizing to Irene. Howard ! Irene had been 
as much in the wrong as she had been ; and she had told 
such mean, distorted versions of their quarrel every- 
where, posing as a puzzled, injured martyr. Rilla 
could never bring herself to tell her side of it. The 
fact that a slur at Walter was mixed up in it tied her 
tongue. So most people believed that Irene had been 
badly used, except a few girls who had never liked her 
and sided with Rilla. Rilla, however, did not get 
much comfort out of their sympathy for it was barbed 
by subtle reminders of other days when she had fought 
Irene's battles with these very girls and snubbed them 
because they did not. idolize her. And yet — the con- 
cert over which she had worked so hard was going to 
be a failure. Mrs. Channing's four solos were the 
feature of the whole program. 

"Miss Oliver, what do you think about it?" she 
asked in desperation. 

"I think Irene is the one who should apologize," 
said Miss Oliver. " But unfortunately my opinion 
will not fill the blanks in your program." 

" If I went and apologized meekly to Irene she 



148 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

would sing, I am sure," sighed Rilla. " She really 
loves to sing in public. But I know she'll be nasty 
about it — I feel I'd rather do anything than go. I 
suppose I should go — if Jem and Jerry can face the 
Huns surely I can face Irene Howard, and swallow my 
pride to ask a favour of her for the good of the Bel- 
gians. Just at present I feel that I cannot do it but 
for all that I have a presentiment that after supper 
you'll see me meekly trotting through Rainbow Valley 
on my way to the Upper Glen Road." 

Rilla's presentiment proved correct. After supper 
she dressed herself carefully in her blue, beaded crepe 
— for vanity is harder to quell than pride and Irene 
always saw any flaw or shortcoming in another girl's 
appearance. Besides, as Rilla had told her mother one 
day when she was nine years old, " it is easier to be- 
have nicely when you have your good clothes on." It 
was easier : it kept up the morale of the army. 

Rilla did her hair very becomingly and donned a 
long raincoat for fear of a shower. But all the while 
her thoughts were concerned with the coming distaste- 
ful interview, and she kept rehearsing mentally her 
part in it. She wished it were over — she wished she 
had never tried to get up a Belgian Relief concert — 
she wished she had not quarrelled with Irene. After 
all, disdainful silence would have been much more ef- 
fective in meeting the slur upon Walter. It was fool- 
ish and childish to fly out as she had done — well, she 
would be wiser in future, but meanwhile a large and 
very unpalatable slice of humble pie had to be eaten, 
and Rilla Blythe was no fonder of that wholesome 
article of diet than the rest of us. 

By sunset she was at the door of the Howard house 



A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE 149 

— a pretentious abode, with white scroll-work around 
the eaves and an eruption of bay windows on all its 
sides. Mrs. Howard, a plump, voluble dame, met 
Rilla gushingly and left her in the parlour while she 
went to call Irene. Rilla threw off her rain-coat and 
looked at herself critically in the mirror over the 
mantel. Hair, hat and dress were satisfactory — 
nothing there for Miss Irene to make fun of. Rilla 
remembered how clever and amusing she used to think 
Irene's biting little comments about other girls. Well, 
it had come home to her now. 

Presently, Irene skimmed down, elegantly gowned, 
with her pale, straw-coloured hair done in the latest 
and most extreme fashion, and an over-luscious atmos- 
jrfiere of perfume enveloping her. 

" Why, how do you do. Miss Blythe ? '' she said 
sweetly. " This is a very unexpected pleasure.*' 

Rilla had risen to take Irene's chilly finger tips and 
now, as she sat down again, she saw something that 
temporarily stimned her. Irene saw it too, as she sat 
down, and a little amused, impertinent smile appeared 
on her lips and hovered there during the rest of the in- 
terview. 

On one of Rilla's feet was a smart little steel-buckled 
shoe and filmy blue silk stocking. The other was clad 
in a stout and rather shabby boot and black lisle ! 

Poor Rilla! She had changed, or begun to change 
her boots and stockings after she had put on her dress. 
This was the result of doing one thing with your hands 
and another with your brain. Oh, what a ridiculous 
position to be in — and before Irene Howard of all 
people — Irene, who was staring at Rilla*s feet as if 
she had never seen feet before! And once she had 



ISO RILLA OF INGLESroE 

thought Irene's manner perfection! Everything that 
Rilla had prepared to say vanished from her memory. 
Vainly trying to tuck her imlucky foot under her chair, 
she blurted out a bltmt statement. 

" I have come to athk a favor of you, Irene." 

There — lisping! Oh, she had been prepared for 
htmiiliation but not to this extent ! Really, there were 
limits ! 

" Yes? " said Irene in a cool, questioning tone, lift- 
ing her shallowly-set, insolent eyes to Rilla's crimson 
face for a moment and then dropping them again as if 
she really could not tear them from their fascinated 
gaze at the shabby boot and the gallant shoe. 

Rilla gathered herself together. She would not 
lisp — she would be calm and composed. 

" Mrs. Channing cannot come because her son is ill 
in Kingsport, and I have come on behalf of the com- 
mittee to ask you if you will be so kind as to sing for 
us in her place." Rilla enunciated every word so pre- 
cisely and carefully that she seemed to be reciting a 
lesson. 

" It's something of a fiddler's invitation, isn't it?" 
said Irene, with one of her disagreeable smiles. 

" Olive Kirk asked you to help when we first thought 
of the concert and you refused," said Rilla. 

"Why, I could hardly help — then — could I?" 
asked Irene plaintively. " After you had ordered me 
never to speak to you again ? It would have been very 
awkward for us both, don't you think ? " 

Now for the humble pie. 

" I want to apologize to you for saying that, Irene,'* 
said Rilla steadily. " I should not have said it and I 



A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE 151 

have been very sorry ever since. Will you forgive 
me?'* 

" And sing at your concert ? " said Irene sweetly and 
insultingly. 

"If you mean/* said Rilla miserably, " that I would 
not be apologizing to you if it were not for the concert 
perhaps that is true. But it is also true that I have felt 
ever since it happened that I should not have said what 
I did and that I have been sorry for it all winter. 
That is all I can say. If you feel you can't forgive 
me I suppose there is nothing more to be said." 

" Oh, Rilla dear, don't snap me up like that," pleaded 
Irene. "Of course I'll forgive you — though I did 
feel awfully about it — how awfully I hope you'll never 
know. I cried for weeks over it. And when I hadn't 
said or done a thing ! " 

Rilla choked back a retort. After all, there was no 
use in arguing with Irene and the Belgians were starv- 
ing. 

" Don't you think you can help us with the concert," 
she forced herself to say. Oh, if only Irene would 
stop looking at that boot! Rilla could just hear her 
giving Olive Kirk an account of it. 

" I don't see how I really can at the last moment like 
this," protested Irene. " There isn't time to learn any- 
thing new.'* 

" Oh, you have lots of lovely songs that nobody in 
the Glen ever heard before," said Rilla, who knew 
Irene had been going to town all winter for lessons 
and that this was only a pretext. " They will all be 
new down there.'* 

" But I have no accompanist," protested Irene. 



152 RILIA OF INGLESIDE 

" Una Meredith can accompany you/* said Rilla. 

" Oh, I couldn't ask her," sighed Irene. "We 
haven't spoken since last fall. She was so hateful to 
me the time of our Sunday School concert that I simply 
had to give her up." 

Dear, dear, was Irene at feud with everybody ? As 
for Una Meredith being hateful to anybody, the idea 
was so farcical that Rilla had much ado to keep from 
laughing in Irene's very face. 

*' Miss Oliver is a beautiful pianist and can play any 
accompaniment at sight," said Rilla desperately. 
" She will play for you and you could run over your 
songs easily tomorrow evening at Ingleside before the 
concert." 

" But I haven't anything to wear. My new evening 
dress isn't home from Charlottetown yet, and I simply 
cannot wear my old one at such a big affair. It is too 
shabby and old-fashioned." 

" Our concert," said Rilla slowly, " is in aid of Bel- 
gian children who are starving to death. Don't you 
think you could wear a shabby dress once for their 
sake, Irene?" 

" Oh, don't you think those accounts we get of the 
conditions of the Belgians are very much exagger- 
ated?" said Irene. "I'm sure they can't be actually 
starving, you know, in the twentieth century. The 
newspapers always colour things so highly." 

Rilla concluded that she had humiliated herself 
enough. There was such a thing as self-respect. No 
more coaxing, concert or no concert. She got up, 
boot and all. 

" I am sorry you can't help us, Irene, but since you 
cannot we must do the best we can." 



A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE 153 

Now this did not suit Irene at all. She desired ex- 
ceedingly to sing at that concert, and all her hesitations 
were merely by way of enhancing the boon of her final 
consent. Besides, she really wanted to be friends with 
Rilla again. Rilla's whole-hearted, ungrudging adora- 
tion had been very sweet incense to her. And Ingle- 
side was a very charming house to visit, especially 
when a handsome college student like Walter was home. 
She stopped looking at Rilla's feet. 

" Rilla, darling, don't be so abrupt. I really want 
to help you, if I can manage it. Just sit down and 
let's talk it over.*' 

" I'm sorry but I can't. I have to be home soon — 
Jims has to be settled for the night, you know." 

** Oh, yes — the baby you are bringing up by book. 
It's perfectly sweet of you to do it when you hate chil- 
dren so. How cross you were jiist because I kissed 
him! But we'll forget all that and be chums again, 
won't we ? Now, about the concert — I daresay I can 
run into town on the morning train after my dress, and 
out again on the afternoon one in plenty of time for 
the concert, if you'll ask Miss Oliver to play for me. 
/ couldn't — she's so dreadfully haughty and super- 
cilious that she simply paralyses poor little me." 

Rilla did not waste time or breath defending Miss 
Oliver. She coolly thanked Irene, who had suddenly 
become very amiable and gushing, and got away. She 
was very thankful the interview was over. But she 
knew now that she and Irene could never be the f nends 
they had been. Friendly, yes — but friends, no. Nor 
did she wish it. All winter she had felt under her 
other and more serious worries, a little feeling of re- 
gret for her lost chum. Now it was suddenly gone. 



154 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Irene was not as Mrs. Elliott would say, of the race 
that knew Joseph. Rilla did not say or think that she 
had outgrown Irene. Had the thought occurred to her 
she would have considered it absurd when she was not 
yet seventeen and Irene was twenty. But it was the 
truth. Irene was just what she had been a year ago 
— just what she would always be. Rilla Blythe's 
nature in that year had changed and matured and deep- 
ened. She found herself seeing through Irene with a 
disconcerting clearness — discerning under all her 
superficial sweetness her pettiness, her vindictiveness, 
her insincerity, her essential cheapness. Irene had 
lost forever her faithful worshipper. 

But not until Rilla had traversed the Upper Glen 
Road and found herself in the moon-dappled solitude 
of Rainbow Valley did she fully recover her com- 
posure of spirit. Then she stopped under a tall wild 
plum that was ghostly white and fair in its misty 
spring-bloom and laughed. 

" There is only one thing of importance just now — 
and that is that the Allies win the war," she said aloud. 
*' Therefore, it follows without dispute that the fact 
that I went to see Irene Howard with odd shoes and 
stockings on is of no importance whatever. Never- 
theless, I Bertha Marilla Blythe, swear solemnly with 
the moon as witness " — Rilla lifted her hand dramat- 
ically to the said moon, — " that I will never leave my 
room again without looking carefully at both my feet" 



THE VALLEY OF DECISION 155 



CHAPTER XIV 
The Valley of Decision 

SUSAN kept the flag flying at Ingleside all the next 
day, in honor of Italy's declaration of war. 

" And not before it was time, Mrs. Dr. dear, con- 
sidering the way things have begun to go on the Rus- 
sian front. Say what you will, those Russians are 
kittle cattle, the grand duke Nicholas to the contrary 
notwithstanding. It is a fortunate thing for Italy that 
she has come in on the right side, but whether it is as 
fortunate for the Allies I will not predict until I know 
more about Italians than I do now. However, she 
will give that old reprobate of a Francis Joseph some- 
thing to think about. A pretty emperor indeed, — 
with one foot in the grave and yet plotting wholesale 
murder " — ^and Susan thumped and kneaded her bread 
with as much vicious energy as she could have expended 
in punching Francis Joseph himself if he had been so 
imlucky as to fall into her clutches. 

Walter had gone to town on the early train, and Nan 
offered to look after Jims for the day and so set Rilla 
free. Rilla was wildly busy all day, helping to decor- 
ate the Glen hall and seeing to a hundred last things. 
The evening was beautiful, in spite of the fact that Mr. 
Pryor was reported to have said that he "hoped it 
would rain pitch forks points down," and to have wan- 
tonly kicked Miranda's dog as he said it. Rilla, rush- 
ing home from the hall, dressed hurriedly. Every- 
thing had gone surprisingly well at the last ; Irene was 
even then downstairs practising her songs with Miss 



156 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Oliver; Rilla was excited and happy, forgetful even of 
the western front for the moment. It gave her a 
sense of achievement and victory to have brought her 
efforts of weeks to such a successful conclusion. She 
knew that there had not lacked people who thought 
and hinted that Rilla Blythe had not the tact or 
patience to engineer a concert program. She had 
shown them ! Little snatches of song bubbled up from 
her lips as she dressed. She thought she was looking 
very well. Excitement brought a faint, becoming pink 
into her round creamy cheeks, quite drowning out her 
few freckles, and her hair gleamed with red-brown 
lustre. Should she wear crab-apple blossoms in it, or 
her little fillet of pearls ? After some agonized waver- 
ing she decided on the crab-apple blossoms and tucked 
the white waxen cluster behind her left ear. Now 
for a final look at her feet. Yes, both slippers were 
on. She gave the sleeping Jims a kiss — what a dear 
little warm, rosy, satin face he had — -and hurried 
down the hill to the hall. .Already it was filling — 
soon it was crowded. Her concert was going to be a 
brilliant success. 

The first three numbers were successfully over. 
Rilla was in the little dressing room behind the plat- 
form, looking out on the moonlit harbour and rehears- 
ing her own recitations. She was alone, the rest of 
the performers being in the larger room on the other 
side. Suddenly she felt two soft bare arms slipping 
round her waist; then Irene Howard dropped a light 
kiss on her cheek. 

" Rilla, you sweet thing, you're looking simply an- 
gelic tonightr You have spunk — I thought you would 
feel so badly over Walter's enlisting that you'd hardly 



THE VALLEY OF DECISION 157 

be able to bear up at all, and here you are as cool as a 
cucumber. I wish I had half your nerve." 

Rilla stood perfectly still. She felt no emotion 
whatever — she felt nothing. The world of feeling 
had just gone blank. 

"Walter — enlisting" — she heard herself saying 
— then she heard Irene's affected little laugh. 

"Why, didn't you know? I thought you did of 
course, or I wouldn't have mentioned it. I am always 
putting my foot in it, amn't I ? Yes, that is what he 
went to town for today — he told me coming out on 
the train tonight. / was the first person he told. He 
isn't in khaki yet — they were out of uniforms — but 
he will be in a day or two. I always said Walter had 
as much pluck as anybody. I assure you I felt proud 
of him, Rilla, when he told me what he'd done. Oh, 
there's an end of Rick MacAUister's reading. I must 
fly. I promised I'd play for the next chorus — Alice 
Clow has such a headache." 

She was gone — oh, thank God, she was gone! 
Rilla was alone again, staring out at the unchanged, 
dream-like beauty of moonlit Four Winds. Feeling 
was coming back to her — a pang of agony so acute 
as to be almost physical seemed to rend her apart. 

" I cannot bear it," she said. And then came the 
awful thought that perhaps she could bear it and that 
there might be years of this hideous suffering before 
her. 

She must get away — she must rush home — she 
must be alone. She could not go out there and play 
for drills and give readings and take part in dialogues 
now. It would spoil half the concert — but that did 
not matter — nothing mattered. Was this she, Rilla 



158 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Blythe — this tortured thing who had been quite happy 
a few minutes ago ? Outside, a quartette was singing 
" We'll never let the old flag fall " — the music seemed 
to be coming from some remote distance. Why 
couldn't she cry, as she had cried when Jem told them 
he must go? If she could cry perhaps this horrible 
something that seemed to have seized on her very life 
might let go. But no tears came! Where was her 
scarf and coat? She must get away and hide herself 
like an animal hurt to the death. 

Was it a coward's part to run away like this ? The 
question came to her suddenly as if some one else had 
asked it. She thought of the shambles of the Flanders 
front — she thought of her brother and her playmate 
helping to hold those fire-swept trenches. What would 
they think of her if she shirked her little duty here — 
the humble duty of carrying the program through for 
her Red Cross ? But she couldn't stay — she couldn't 
— yet what was it mother had said when Jem went — 
** when our women fail in courage our men be fearless 
still? " But this — this was unbearable. 

Still, she stopped half way to the door and went back 
to the window^ Irene was singing now; her beautiful 
voice — the only real thing about her — soared clear 
and sweet through the building. Rilla knew that the 
girls' Fairy Drill came next. Could she go out there 
and play for it? Her head was aching now — her 
throat was burning. Oh, why had Irene told her just 
then, when telling could do no good? Irene had 
been very cruel* Rill^ remembered now that more 
than once that day she had caught her mother looking 
at her with an odd expression. She had been too busy 
to wonder what it meant. She understood now. 



THE VALLEY OF DECISION 159 

Mother had known why Walter went to town but 
wouldn't tell her until the concert was over. What 
spirit and endurance mother had ! 

" I must stay here and see things through," said 
Rilla, clasping her cold hands together. 

The rest of the evening always seemed like a 
fevered dream to her. Her body was crowded by 
people but her soul was alone in a torture chamber of 
its own. Yet she played steadily for the drills and 
gave her readings without faltering. She even put on 
a grotesque old Irish woman's costume and acted the 
part in the dialogue which Miranda Pryor had not 
taken. But she did not give her " brogue " the inimit- 
able twist she had given it in the practices, and her 
readings lacked their usual fire and appeal. --^ she 
stood before the audience she saw one face only — that 
of the handsome, dark-haired lad sitting beside her 
mother — and she saw that same face in the trenches 
— saw it lying cold and dead under the stars — saw 
it pining in prison — saw the light of his eyes blotted 
out — saw a hundred horrible things as she stood there 
on the beflagged platform of the Glen hall with her 
own face whiter than the milky crab blossoms in her 
hair. Between her numbers she walked restlessly up 
and down the little dressing room. Would the con- 
cert never end ! 

It ended at last. Olive Kirk rushed up and told her 
exultantly that they had made a hundred dollars. 
" That's good," Rilla said mechanically. Then she 
was away from them all — oh, thank God, she was 
away from them a;ll — Walter was waiting for her at 
the door. He put his arm through hers silently and 
they went together down the moonlit road. The frogs 



i6o RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

were singing in the marshes, the dim, ensilvered fields 
of home lay all around them. The spring night was 
lovely and appealing. Rilla felt that its beauty was 
an insult to her pain. She would hate moonlight for- 
ever. 

" You know? " said Walter. 

" Yes. Irene told me,'' answered Rilla chokingly. 

" We didn't want you to know till the evening was 
over. I knew when you came out for the drill that 
you had heard. Little sister, I had to do it. I couldn't 
live any longer on such terms with myself as I have 
been since the Lusitania was sunk. When I pictured 
those dead women and children floating about in that 
pitiless, ice-cold water — well, at first I just felt a sort 
of nausea with life. I wanted to get out of the world 
where such a thing could happen — shake its accursed 
dust from my feet forever. Then I knew I had to 

go- 

** There are — plenty — without you." 

"That isn't the point, Rilla-my-Rilla. I'm going 
for my own sake — to save my soul alive. It will 
shrink to something small and mean and lifeless if I 
don't go. That would be worse than blindness or 
mutilation or any of the things I've feared." 

"You may — be — killed," Rilla hated herself for 
saying it — she knew it was a weak and cowardly 
thing to say — but she had rather gone to pieces after 
the tension of the evening. 

" * Comes he slow or comes he fast 
. It is but death who comes at last.' " 

quoted Walter. " It's not death I fear — I told you 
that long ago. One can pay too high a price for mere 



THE VALLEY OF DECISION 161 

life, little sister. There's so much hideousness in this 
war — I've got to go and help wipe it out of the world. 
I'm going to fight for the beauty of life, Rilla-my- 
Rilla — that is my duty. There may be a higher duty, 
perhaps — but that is mine. I owe life and Canada 
thai, and I've got to pay it. Rilla, tonight for the first 
time since Jem left I've got back my self-respect. I 
could write poetry," Walter laughed. " I've never 
been able to write a line since last August. Tonight 
I'm full of it. Little sister, be brave — you were so 
plucky when Jem went." 

" This — is — different," Rilla had to stop after 
every word to fight down a wild outburst of sobs. " I 
loved — Jem — of course — but — when — he went 
— away — we thought — the war — would soon — 
be over — and you are — everything to me, Walter." 

'* You must be brave to help me, Rilla-my-Rilla. 
I'm exalted tonight — drunk with the excitement of 
victory over myself — but there will be other times 
when it won't be like this — I'll need your help then." 

" When — do — you — go ? " She must know 
the worst at once. 

" Not for a week — then we go to Kingsport for 
training. I suppose we'll go overseas about the middle 
of July — we don't know." 

One week — only one week more with Walter! 
The eyes of youth did not see how she was to go on 
living. 

When they turned in at the Ingleside gate Walter 
stopped in the shadows of the old pines and drew Rilla 
close to him. 

" Rilla-my-Rilla, there were girls as sweet and pure 
as you in Belgium and Flanders. You — even you — 



i62 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

know what their fate was. We must make it impossi- 
ble for such things to happen again while the world 
lasts. You'll help me, won't you ? " 

'' rU try, Walter," she said. " Oh, I will try." 

As she clung to him with her face pressed against 
his shoulder she knew that it had to be. She accepted 
the fact then and there. He must go — her beautiful 
Walter with his beautiful soul and dreams and ideals. 
And she had known all along that it would come sooner 
or later. She had seen it coming to her — coming — 
coming — as one sees the shadow of a cloud drawing 
near over a sunny field, swiftly and inescapably. 
Amid all her pain she was conscious of an old feeling 
of relief in some hidden part of her soul, where a lit- 
tle dull, unacknowledged soreness had been lurking all 
winter. No one — no one could ever call Walter a 
slacker now. 

Rilla did not sleep that night. Perhaps no one at 
Ingleside did except Jims. The body grows slowly 
and steadily but the soul grows by leaps and bounds. 
It may come to its full stature in an hour. From that 
night Rilla Blythe's soul was the soul of a woman in 
its capacity for suffering, for strength, for endurance. 

When the bitter dawn came she rose and went to her 
window. Below her was a big apple tree, a great 
swelling cone of rosy blossom. Walter had planted it 
years ago when he was a little boy. Beyond Rainbow 
Valley there was a cloudy shore of morning with little 
ripples of sunrise breaking over it. The far, cold 
beauty of a lingering star shone above it. Why, in 
this world of springtime loveliness, must hearts break? 

Rilla felt arms go about her lovingly, protectingly. 
It was mother — pale, large-eyed mother. 



THE VALLEY OF DECISION 163 

" Oh, mother, how can you bear it ? " she cried 
wildly. 

" Rilla, dear, I've known for several days that Wal- 
ter meant to go. I've had time to — to rebel and grow 
reconciled. We must give him up. There is a Call 
greater and more insistent than the call of our love — 
he has listened to it. We must not add to the bitter- 
ness of his sacrifice." 

'' Our sacrifice is greater than his/' cried Rilla pas- 
sionately. " Our boys give only themselves. We 
give them." 

Before Mrs. Blythe could reply Susan stuck her head 
in at the door, never troubling over such frills of eti- 
quette as knocking. Her eyes were suspiciously red 
but all she said was. 

Will I bring up your breakfast, Mrs. Dr. dear." 
No, no, Susan. We will all be down presently. 
Do you know — that Walter has joined up." 

"Yes, Mrs. Dr. dear. The doctor told me last 
night. I suppose the Almighty has his own reasons 
for allowing such things. We must submit and en- 
deavour to look on the bright side. It may cure him 
of being a poet, at least" — Susan still persisted in 
thinking that poets and tramps were tarred with the 
same brush— "and that would be something. But 
thank God," she muttered in a lower tone, " that Shir- 
ley is not old enough to go." 

" Isn't that the same thing as thanking him that 
some other woman's son has to go in Shirley's place? " 
asked the doctor, pausing on the threshold. 

*' No, it is not. Dr. dear," said Susan defiantly, as 
she picked up Jims, who was opening his big dark eyes 
and stretching up his dimpled paws. "Do not you 






i64 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

put words in my mouth that I would never dream of 
uttering. I am a plain woman and cannot argue with 
you, but I do not thank God that anybody has to go. I 
only know that it seems they do have to go, unless we 
all want to be Kaiserized — for I can assure you the 
Monroe doctrine, whatever it is, is nothing to tie to, 
with Woodrow Wilson behind it. The Huns, Dr. 
dear, will never be brought to book by notes. And 
now," concluded Susan, tucking Jims in the crook of 
her gaunt arms and marching downstairs, "having 
cried my cry and said my say I shall take a brace, and 
if I cannot look pleasant I will look as pleasant ^ I 
can. 



CHAPTER XV 
Until the Day Break 

THE Germans have recaptured Premysl," said 
Susati despairingly, looking up from her news- 
paper, "and now I suppose we will have to begin 
calling it by that uncivilized name again. Cousin 
Sophia was in when the mail came and when she heard 
the news she hove a sigh up from the depths of her 
stomach, Mrs. Dr. dear, and said, * Ah yes, and they 
will get Petrograd next I have no doubt.' / said to 
her, ' My knowledge of geography is not so profound 
as I wish it was but I have an idea that it is quite a 
walk from Premysl to Petrograd.' Cousin Sophia 
sighed again and said, * The Grand Duke Nicholas is 
not the man I took him to be.' ' Do not let him know 



UNTIL THE DAY BREAK 165 

that/ said I. ' It might hurt his feelings and he has 
likely enough to worry him as it is.' But you cannot 
cheer Cousin Sophia up, no matter how sarcastic you 
are, Mrs. Dr. dear. She sighed for the third time and 
groaned out, *But the Russians are retreating fast,' 
and / said, * Well, what of it ? They have plenty of 
room for retreating, have they not?' But all the 
same, Mrs. Dr. dear, though I would never admit it to 
Cousin Sophia, I do «o^ like the situation on the east- 
em front." 

Nobody else liked it either ; but all summer t Jie Rus- 
sian retreat went on — a long-drawn out agony. 

" I wonder if I shall ever again be able to await the 
coming of the mail with feelings of composure — 
never .to speak of pleasure," said Gertrude Oliver. 
" The thought that haunts me night and day is — will 
the Germans smash Russia completely and then hurl 
their .eastern army, flushed with victory, against the 
western front ? " 

" They will not. Miss Oliver dear," said Susan, as- 
suming the role of prophetess. " In the first place, 
the Almighty will not allow it, in the second, Grand 
Duke Nicholas, though he may have been a disappoint- 
ment to us in some respects, knows how'to run away 
decently and in order, and that is a very useful knowl- 
edge when Germans are chasing you. Norman Doug- 
las declares he is just luring them on and killing ten 
of them to one he loses. But I am of the opinion he 
cannot help himself and is just doing the best he can 
under the circumstances, the same as the rest of us. 
So do not go so far afield to borrow trouble. Miss 
Oliver dear, when there is plenty of it already camp- 
ing on our very doorstep." 



i66 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Walter had gone to Kingsport the first of June. 
Nan, Di and Faith had gone also to do Red Cross work 
in their vacation. In mid-July Walter came home for 
a week's leave before going overseas. Rilla had lived 
through the days of his absence on the hope of that 
week, and now that it had come she drank every min- 
ute of it thirstily, hating even the hours she had to 
spend in sleep, they seemed such a waste of precious 
moments. In spite of its sadness, it was a beautiful 
week, full of poignant, unforgetable hours, when she 
and Walter had long walks and talks and silences to- 
gether. He was all her own and she knew that he 
found strength and comfort in her sympathy and un- 
derstanding. It was very wonderful to know she 
meant so much to him — the knowledge helped her 
through moments that would otherwise have been un- 
endurable, and gave her power to smile — and even to 
laugh a little by times, \yhen Walter had gone she 
might indulge in the comfort of tears, but not while 
he was here. She would not even let herself cry at 
night, lest her eyes should betray her to him in the 
morning. 

On his last evening at home they went together to 
Rainbow Valley and sat down on the bank of the 
brook, under the White Lady, where the gay revels of 
olden days had been held in the cloudless years. Rain- 
bow Valley was roofed over with a sunset of unusual 
splendour that night; a wonderful grey dusk just 
touched with starlight followed it; and then came 
moonshine, hinting, hiding, revealing, lighting up lit- 
tle dells and hollows here, leaving others in dark, velvet 
shadow. 

" When I am * somewhere in France,' " said Walter 



UNTIL THE DAY BREAK 167 

looking around him with eager eyes on all the beauty 
his soul loved, " I shall remember these still, dewy, 
moon-drenched places. The balsam of the fir trees — 
the peace of those white* pools of moonshine — -the 
'strength of the hills' — what a- beautiful old Biblical 
phrase that is. Rilla ! Look at those old hills around 
us — the hills we looked up at as children, wondering 
what lay for us in the great world beyond them. How 
calm and strong they are — how patient and change- 
less — like the heart of a good woman. Rilla*my- 
Rilla, do you know what you have been to me the past 
year? I want to tell you before I go. I could not 
have lived through it if it had not been for you, little 
loving, believing heart." 

Rilla dared not try to speak. She slipped her hand 
into Walter's and pressed it hard. 

" And when I'm over there, Rilla, in that hell upon 
earth which men who have forgotten God have made> 
it will be the thought of you that will help me most. I 
know you'll be as plucky and patient as you have shown 
yourself to be this past year — I'm not afraid for you. 
I know that no matter what happens, you'll be Rilla-- 
wy-Rilla — no matter what happens." 

Rilla repressed tear and sigh, but she could not re- 
press a little shiver, and Walter knew that he Tiad said 
enough. After a moment of silence, in which each 
made an unworded promise to each other, he said, 

" Now we won't be sober any more. We'll look be- 
yond the years — to the time when the war will be 
over and Jem and Jerry and I will come marching 
home and we'll all be happy again." 

" We won't be — happy — in the same way,*' said 
Rilla. 



i68 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" No, not in the same way. Nobody whom this war 
has touched will ever be happy again in quite the same 
way. But it will be a better happiness, I think, little 
sister — a happiness we've earned. We were very 
happy before the war, weren't we ? With a home like 
Ingleside, and a father and mother like ours we 
couldn't help being happy. But that happiness was a 
gift from life and love; it wasn't really ours — life 
could take it back at any time. It can never take away 
the happiness we win for ourselves in the way of duty. 
I've realized that since I went into khaki. In spite of 
my occasional funks, when I fall to living over things 
beforehand, I've been happy since that night in May. 
Rilla, be awfully good to mother while I'm away. It 
must be a horrible thing to be a mother in this war — 
the mothers and sisters and wives and sweethearts have 
the hardest times. Rilla, you beautiful little thing, 
are you anybody's sweetheart? If you are, tell me be- 
fore I go." 

" No," said Rilla. Then, impelled by a' wish to be 
absolutely frank with Walter in this talk that might 
be the last they would ever have, she added, blushing 
wildly in the moonlight^ " but if — Kenneth Ford — 
wanted me to be — " 

" I see," said Walter. " And Ken's in khaki, too. 
Poor little girlie, it's a bit hard for you all round. 
Well, I'm not leaving any girl to break her heart about 
me — thank God for that." 

Rilla glanced up at the manse on the hill. She 
could see a light in Una Meredith's window. She felt 
tempted to say something- — then she knew she must 
not. It was not her secret : and, anyway, she did not 
know — she only suspected. 



UNTIL THE DAY BREAK 169 

Walter looked about him lingeringly and lovingly. 
This spot had always been so dear to him. What fun 
they all had had here lang syne. Phantoms of mem- 
ory seemed to pace the dappled paths and peep mer- 
rily through the swinging boughs — Jem and Jerry, 
bare-legged, sunburned schoolboys, . fishing in the 
brook and frying trout over the old stone fireplace. 
Nan and'Di and Faith, in their dimpled, fresh-eyed 
childish beauty, Una the sweet and shy, Carl, poring 
over ants and bugs, little slangy, sharp-tongued, good- 
hearted Mary Vanc^ — the old Walter that had been 
himself lying on the grass reading poetry or wander- 
ing through palaces of fancy. They were all there 
around him — he could see them almost as plainly as 
he saw Rilla — as plainly as he had once seen the Pied 
Piper piping down the valley in a vanished twilight. 
And they said to him, those gay little ghosts of other 
days, " We were the children of yesterday, Walter — 
fight a good fight for the children of today and to- 
morrow." 

" Where are you, Walter," cried Rilla, laughing a 
little. " Come back — come back." 

Walter came back with a long breath. He stood up 
and looked about him at the beautiful valley of moon- 
light, as if to impress on his mind and heart every 
charm it possessed — the great dark plumes of the 
firs against the silvery sky, the stately White Lady, 
the old magic of the dancing brook, the faithful Tree 
Lovers, the beckoning, tricksy paths. 

" I shall see it so in my dreams," he said, as he 
turned away. 

They went back to Ingleside. Mr. and Mrs. Mere- 
dith were there, with Gertrude Oliver who had come 



I70 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

from Lowbridge to say good-bye. Everybody was 
quite cheerful and bright, but nobody said much about 
the war being soon over, as they had said when Jem 
went away. They did not talk about the war at all — 
and they thought of nothing else. At last they gath- 
ered around the piano and sang the grand old hymn, 

^ Oh God, our help in ages past 
Our hope for years to come. 
Our shelter from the stormy blast 
And our eternal home.'' 

** We all come back to God in these days of soul- 
sifting/' said Gertrude to John Meredith. "There 
have been many days in the past when I didn't 
believe in God — not as God — only as the impersonal 
Great First Cause of the scientists. I believe in Him 
now — I have to — there's nothing else to fall back on 
but God — humbly, starkly, unconditionally." 

" ' Our help in ages past ' — ' the same yesterday, to- 
day and for ever/ " said the minister gently. " When 
we forget God — He remembers us." 

There was no crowd at the Glen Station the next 
morning to see Walter off. It was becoming a com- 
monplace for a khaki clad boy to board that early 
morning train after his last leave. Besides his own, 
only the manse folk were there, and Mary Vance. 
Mary had sent her Miller off the week before, with a 
determined grin, and now considered herself entitled 
to give expert opinion on how such partings should be 
conducted. 

" The main thing is to smile and act as if nothing 
was happening," she informed the Ingleside group. 
" The boys all hate the sob act like poison. Miller 



UNTIL THE DAY BREAK 171 

told me I wasn't to come near the station if I couldn't 
keep from bawling. So I got through with my cry- 
ing beforehand and at the last I said to him, ' Good 
luck, Miller, and if you come back you'll find I haven't 
changed any, and if you don't come back I'll always be 
proud you went, and in any case don't fall in love with 
a French girl.' Miller swore he wouldn't, but you 
never can tell about those fascinating foreign hussies. 
Anyhow, the last sight he had of m^ I was smiling to 
my limit. Gee, all the rest of the day my face felt as 
if it had been starched and ironed into a smile." 

In spite of Mary's advice and example Mrs. Blythe, 
who had sent Jem off with a smile, could not quite 
manage one for Walter. But at least no one cried. 
Dog Monday came out of his lair in the shipping shed 
and sat down close to Walter, thumping his tail vigor- 
ously on the boards of the platform whenever Walter 
spoke to him, and looking up with confident eyes, as 
if to say, " I know you'll find Jem and bring him back 
to me." 

" So long, old fellow," said Carl Meredith cheer- 
fully, when the good-byes had to be said. " Tell them 
over there to keep their spirits up — / am coming along 
presently." 

" Me, too," said Shirley laconically, proffering a 
brown paw. Susan heard him ^nd her face turned 
very grey. 

Una shook hands quietly, looking at him with wist- 
ful, sorrowful, dark-blue eyes. But then Una's eyes 
had always been wistful. Walter bent his handsome 
black head in its khaki cap and kissed her with the 
warm, comradely kiss of a brother. He had never 
kissed her before, and for a fleeting moment Una's 



172 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

face betrayed her, if any one had noticed. But no- 
body did ; the conductor was shouting ** all aboard '* ; 
everybody was trying to look very cheerful. Walter 
turned to Rilla; she held his hands and looked up at 
him. She would not see him again until the day 
broke and the shadows vanished — and she knew not 
if that daybreak would be on this side of the grave 
or beyond it. 

" Good-bye," she said. 

On her lips it lost all the bitterness it had won 
through the ages of parting and bore instead all the 
sweetness of the old loves of all the women who had 
ever loved and prayed for the beloved. 

*' Write me often and bring Jims up faithfully, ac- 
cording to the gospel of .Morgan," Walter said lightly, 
having said all his serious things the night before in 
Rainbow Valley. But at the last moment he took her 
face between his hands and looked deep into her gal- 
lant eyes. "God bless you, Rilla-my-Rilla," he said 
softly and tenderly. After all it was not a hard thing 
to fight for a land that bore daughters like this. 

He stood on the rear platform and waved to them as 
the train pulled out. Rilla was standing by herself 
but Una Meredith came to her and the two girls who 
loved him most stood together and held each other's 
cold hands as the train rounded the curve of the 
wooded hill. 

Rilla spent an hour in Rainbow Valley that morn- 
ing about which she never said a word to any one ; she 
did not even write in her diary about it ; when it was 
over she went home and made rompers for Jims dur- 
ing the rest of the day ; in the evening she went to a 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 173 

Junior Red Cross committee meeting and was severely 
business-like. 

" You would never suppose," said Irene Howard to 
Olive Kirk afterwards, " that Walter had left for the 
front only this morning. But some people really have 
no depth of feeling. I suppose it is much the best 
thing for them. I often wish / could take things as 
lightly as Rilla Blythe.'' 



CHAPTER XVI 
Realism and Romance 

WARSAW has fallen," said Dr. Blythe with a 
resigned air, as he brought the mail in one 
warm August day. 

Gertrude and Mrs. Blythe looked dismally at each 
other, and Rilla, who was feeding Jims a Morganized 
diet from a carefully sterilized spoon, laid the said 
spoon down on his tray, utterly regardless of germs, 
and said, " Oh, dear me," in as tragic a tone as if the 
news had come as a thunderbolt instead of being a fpre- 
gone conclusion from the preceding week's dispatches. 
They had thought they were quite resigned to War- 
saw's fall but now they knew they had, as always, 
hoped against hope. 

" Now, let us take a brace," said Susan. " It is not 
the terrible thing we have been thinking. I read a 
dispatch three columns long in the Montreal Herald 



174 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

yesterday which proved that Warsaw was not impor- 
tant from a military point of view at all. So let us 
take the military point of view. Dr. dear." 

*' I read that dispatch, too, and it has encouraged 
me immensely/' said Gertrude. " I knew then and I 
know now that it was a lie from beg^inning to end 
But I am in that state of mind where even a lie is a 
comfort, providing it is a cheerful lie." 

" In that case. Miss Oliver dear, the German oflSdal 
reports ought to be all you need," said Susan sarcastic- 
ally. " I never read them now because they make me 
so mad I cannot put my thoughts properly on my work 
after a dose of them. Even this news about Warsaw 
has taken the edge oflf my afternoon's plans. Mis- 
fortunes never come singly. I spoiled my baking of 
bread today — and now Warsaw has fallen — and 
here is little Kitchener bent on choking himself to 
death." 

Jims was evidently trjring to swallow his spoon, 
germs and all. Rilla rescued him mechanically and 
was about to resume the operation of feeding him 
when a casual remark of her father's sent such a shock 
and thrill over her that for the second time she dropped 
that doomed spoon. 

" Kenneth Ford is down at Martin West's over- 
harbour," the doctor was saying. " His regiment was 
on its way to the front but was held up in Kingsport 
for some reason, and Ken got leave of absence to come 
over to the Island." 

" I hope he will come up to se us," exclaimed Mrs. 
Blythe. 

" He only has a day or two off, I believe," said the 
doctop absently. 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 175 

Nobody noticed Rilla's flushed face and trembling 
hands. Even the most thoughtful and watchful of 
parents do not see everything that goes on under their 
very noses. Rilla made a third attempt to give the 
long-suffering Jims his dinner but all she could think 
of was the question — Would Ken come to see her 
before he went away? She had not heard from him 
for a long while. Had he forgotten her completely? 
If he did not come she would know that he had. Per- 
haps there was even — some other girl back there in 
Toronto. Of course there was. She was a little fool 
to be thinking about him at all. She would not think 
about him. If he came, well and good. It would only 
be courteous of him to make a farewell call at Ingle- 
side where he had often been a guest- If he did not 
come — well and good, too. It did not matter very 
much. Nobody was going to fret. That was all set- 
tled comfortably — she was quite indifferent — but 
meanwhile Jims was being fed with a haste and reck- 
lessness that would have filled the soul of Morgan 
with horror. Jims himself didn't like it, being a 
methodical baby, accustomed to swallowing spoonfuls 
with a decent interval for breath between each. He 
protested, but his protests availed him nothing. Rilla, 
as far as the care and feeding of infants was con- 
cerned, was utterly demoralized. 

Then the telephone bell rang. There was nothing 
unusual about the telephone ringing. It rang on an 
average every ten minutes at Ingleside. But Rilla 
dropped Jims' spoon again — on the carpet this time — 
and flew to the 'phone as if life depended on her get- 
ting there before anybody else. Jims, his patience ex- 
hausted, lifted up his voice and wept. 



176 RILLA OF INGLESmE 



"Hello, is that Ingleside?" 

" Yes." 

"That you, Rilla?" 

" Yeth — yeth " — oh, why couldn't Jims stop howl- 
mg for just one little minute ? Why didn't somebody 
come in and choke him? 

" Know who's speaking ? " 

Oh, didn't she know! Wouldn't she know that 
voice anywhere — at any time ? 

"It's Ken — isn't it?" 

" Sure thing. I'm here for a look-in. Can I come 
up to Ingleside tonight and see you ? " 

" Of courthe." 

Had he used " you " in the singular or plural sense? 
Presently she would wring Jims' neck — oh, what was 
Ken saying? 

" See here, Rilla, can you arrange that there won't 
be more than a few dozen people round? Under- 
stand? I can't make my meaning clearer over this 
bally rural line. There are a dozen receivers down." 

Did she understand ! Yes, she understood. 

" I'll try," she said tremulously. 

" I'll be up about eight then. By-by." 

Rilla hung up the 'phone and flew to Jims. But 
she did not wring that injured infant's neck. Instead 
she snatched him bodily out of his chair, crushed him 
against her face, kissed him rapturously on his milky 
mouth, and danced wildly around the room with him in 
her arms. After this Jims was relieved to find that she 
returned to sanity, gave him the rest of his dinner 
properly, and tucked him away for his afternoon nap 
with the little lullaby he loved best of all. She sewed 
at Red Cross shirts for the rest of the afternoon 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 177 

and built a crystal castle of dreams, all a-quiver with 
rainbows. Ken wanted to see her — to see her alone. 
That could be easily managed. Shirley wouldn't 
bother them, father and mother were going to the 
manse, Miss Oliver never played gooseberry, and Jims 
always slept the clock round from seven to seven. She 
would entertain Ken on the vei*anda — it would be 
moonlight — she would Wear her white Georgette dress 
and do her hair up — yes, she would — at least in a 
low knot at the nape of her neck. Mother couldn't 
object to that, surely. Oh, how wonderful and ro- 
mantic it would be! Would Ken say anything — he 
must mean to say something or why should he be so 
particular about seeing her alone? What if it rained 
— Susan had been complaining about Mr. Hyde that 
morning! What if some officious Junior Red called 
to discuss Belgians and shirts? Or, worst of all, what 
if Fred Arnold dropped in ? He did occasionally. 

The evening came at last and was all that could be 
desired in an evening. The doctor and his wife went 
to the manse, Shirley and Miss Oliver went they alone 
knew where, Susan went to the store for household 
supplies, and Jims went to Dreamland. Rilla put on 
her Georgette gown, knotted up her hair and bound a 
little double string of pearls around it. Then she 
tucked a cluster of pale pink baby roses at her belt. 
Would Ken ask her for a rose for a keepsake? She 
knew that Jem had carried to the trenches in Flanders 
a faded rose that Faith Meredith had kissed and given 
him the night before he left. 

. Rilla looked very sweet when she met Ken in the 
mingled moonlight and vine shadows of the big ve- 
randa. The hand she gave him was cold and she was 



178 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

so desperately anxious not to lisp that her greeting 
was prim and precise. How handsome and tall Ken- 
neth looked in his lieutenant's uniform! It made him 
seem older, too — so much so that Rilla felt rather 
foolish. Hadn't it been the height of absurdity for her 
to suppose that this splendid young officer had any- 
thing special to say to her, little Rilla Blythe of Glen 
St. Mary? Likely she hadn't understood him after 
all — he had only meant that he didn't want a mob of 
folks around making a fuss over him and trying to 
lionize him, as they had probably done over-harbour. 
Yes, of course, that was all he meant — and she, little 
idiot, had gone and vainly imagined that he didn't want 
anybody but her. And he would think she had ma- 
noeuvred everybody away so that they could be alone 
together, and he would laugh to himself at her. 

" This is better luck than I hoped for," said Ken, 
leaning back in his chair and looking at her with very 
unconcealed admiration in his eloquent eyes. " I was 
sure some one would be hanging about and it was just 
you I wanted to see, Rilla-my-Rilla." 

Rilla's dream castle flashed into the landscape again. 
This was unmistakable enough certainly — not much 
doubt as to his meaning here. 

''There aren't — so many of us— ^to poke around 
as there used to be," she said softly. 

" No, that's so," said Ken gently. " Jem and Wal- 
ter and the girls away — it makes a big blank, doesn't 
it? But" — he learned forward until his dark curls 
almost brushed her hair — " doesn't Fred Arnold try 
to fill the blank occasionally. I've been told so." 

At this moment, before Rilla could make any reply, 
Jims began to cry at the top of his voice in the room 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 179 

whose open window was just above them — Jims, who 
hardly ever cried in the evening. Moreover, he was 
crying, as Rilla knew from experience, with a vim and 
energy that betokened that he had been already whim- 
pering softly unheard for some time and was thor- 
oughly exasperated. When Jims started in crying like 
that he made a thorough job of it. Rilla knew that 
there was no use to sit still and pretend to ignore him. 
He wouldn't stop; and conversation of any kind was 
out of the question when such shrieks and howls were 
floating over your head. Besides, she was afraid Ken- 
neth would think she was utterly unfeeling if she sat 
still and let a baby cry like that. He was not likely 
acquainted with Morgan's invaluable volume. 

She got up. "Jims has had a nightmare, I think. 
He sometimes has one and he is always badly fright- 
ened by it. Excuse me for a moment." 

Rilla flew upstairs, wishing quite frankly that soup 
tureens had never been invented. But when Jims, at 
sight of her, lifted his little arms entreatingly and 
swallowed several sobs, with tears rolling down his 
cheeks, resentment went out of her heart. After all, 
the poor darling was frightened. She picked him up 
gently and rocked him soothingly until his sobs ceased 
and his eyes closed. Then she essayed to lay him 
down in his crib. Jims opened his eyes and shrieked 
a protest. This performance was repeated twice. 
Rilla grew desperate. She couldn't leave Ken down 
there alone any longer — she had been away nearly 
half an hour already. With a resigned air she 
marched downstairs, carrying Jims, and sat down on 
the veranda. It was, no doubt, a ridiculous thing to 
sit and cuddle a contrary war baby when your best 



1 



i8o RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

young man was making his farewell call but there was 
nothing else to be done. 

Jims was supremely happy. He kicked his little 
pink-soled feet rapturously out under his white nighty 
and gave one of his rare laughs. He was beginning 
to be a very pretty baby; his golden hair curled in 
silken ringlets all over his little round head and his eyes 
were beautiful. 

" He's a decorative kiddy all right, isn't he ? " said 
Ken. 

" His looks are very well," said Rilla, bitterly, as if 
to imply that ihey were much the best of him. Jims, 
being an astute infant, sensed trouble in the atmos- 
phere and realized that it was up to him to clear it 
away. He turned his face up to Rilla, smiled adorably 
and said, clearly and beguilingly, " Will — Will." 

It was the very first time he had spoken a word or 
tried to speak. Rilla was so delighted that she forgot 
her grudge against him. She forgave him with a hug 
and kiss. Jims, understanding that he was restored 
to favour, cuddled down against her just where a 
gleam of light from the lamp in the living room struck 
across his hair and turned it into a halo of gold against 
her breast. 

Kenneth sat very still and silent, looking at Rilla 
— at the delicate, girlish silhouette of her, her long 
lashes, her dented lip, her adorable chin. In the dim 
moonlight, as she sat with her head bent a little over 
Jims, the lamplight glinting on her. pearls until they 
glistened like a slender nimbus, he thought she looked 
exadly like the Madonna that hung over his mother's 
desk at home. He carried that picture of her in his 
heart to the horror of the battlefields of France. He 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 181 

had had a strong fancy for Rilla Blythe ever since the 
night of the Four Winds dance; but it was when he 
saw her there, with little Jims in her arm^, that he 
loved her and realized it. And all the while, poor 
Rilla was sitting, disappointed and humiliated, feeling 
that her last evening with Ken was spoiled and wonder- 
ing why things always had to go so contrarily outside 
of books. She felt too absurd to try to talk. Evi- 
dently Ken was completely disgusted, too, since he 
was sitting there in such stony silence. 

Hope revived momentarily when Jims went so thor- 
oughly asleep that she thought it would be safe to 
lay him down on the couch in the living room. But 
when she came out again Susan was sitting on the 
veranda, loosening her bonnet strings with the air of 
one who meant to stay where she was for some time. 

"Have you got your baby to sleep?" she asked 
kindly. 

Your baby! Really, Susan might have more tact. 
" Yes,'' said Miss Rilla shortly. 

Susan laid her parcels on the reed table, as one de- 
termined to do her duty. She was very tired but she 
must help Rilla out. Here was Kenneth Ford who 
had come to call on the family and they were all un- 
fortunately out and " the poor child " had had to en- 
tertain him alone. But Susan had come to her rescue 
— Susan would do her part no matter how tired she 
was. 

" Dear me, how you have grown up/' she said, 
looking at Ken's six feet of khaki uniform without 
the least awe. Susan had grown used to khaki now 
and at sixty- four even a lieutenant's uniform is just 
clothes and nothing else. " It is an amazing thing how 



i82 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

fast children do grow up. Rilla here, now, is ahnost 
fifteen." 

" Fm going on seventeen, Susan," cried Rilla almost 
passionately. She was a whole month past sixteen. 
It was intolerable of Susan. 

" It seems just the other day that you were all 
babies," said Susan, ignoring Rilla's protest. "You 
were really the prettiest baby I ever saw, Ken, though 
your mother had an awful time trying to cure you of 
sucking your thumb. Do you remember the day I 
spanked you ? " 

" No," said Ken. 

"Oh well, I suppose you would be too young — 
you were only about four and you were here with your 
mother and you insisted on teasing Nan until she cried. 
I had tried several ways of stopping you but none 
availed and I saw that a spanking was the only thing 
that would serve. So I picked you up and laid you 
across my knee and lambasted you well. You howled 
at the top of your voice but you left Nan alone after 
that." 

Rilla was writhing. Hadn't Susan any realization 
that she was addressing an officer of the Canadian 
Army? Apparently she had not. Oh, what would 
Ken think ? 

" I suppose you do not remember the time your 
mother spanked you either," continued Susan, who 
seemed to be bent on reviving tender reminiscences that 
evening. " I shall never, no, never forget it. She 
was up here one night with you when you were about 
three and you and Walter were playing out in the 
kitchen yard with a kitten. I had a big puncheon of 
rainwater by the spout which I was reserving for mak- 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 183 

ing soap. And you and Walter began quarrelling over 
the kitten. Walter was at one side of the puncheon 
standing on a chair, holding the kitten, and you were 
standing on a chair at the other side. You leaned 
across that puncheon and grabbed the kitten and 
pulled. You were always a great hand for taking 
what you wanted without too much ceremony. Wal- 
ter held on tight and the poor kitten yelled but you 
dragged Walter and the kitten half over and then you 
both lost your balance and tumbled into that puncheon, 
kitten and all. If I had not been on the spot you 
would both have been drowned. I flew to the rescue 
and hauled you all three out before much harm was 
done, and your mother, who had seen it all from the 
upstairs window, came down and picked you up, drip- 
ping as you were, and gave you a beautiful spanking. 
Ah," said Susan with a sigh, *' those were happy old 
days at Ingleside." 

" Must have been," said Ken. His tone sounded 
queer and stiff. Rilla supposed he was hopelessly en- 
raged. The truth was he dared not trust his voice lest 
it betray his frantic desire to laugh. 

'* Rilla here, now," said Susan, looking afifection- 
ately at that unhappy damsel, " never was much 
spanked. She was a real well-behaved child for the 
most part. But her father did spank her once. She 
got two bottles of pills out of his office and dared 
Alice Clow to see which of them could swallow all 
the pills first, and if her father had not happened in 
in the nick of time those two children would have 
been corpses by night. At it was, they were both sick 
enough shortly after. But the doctor spanked Rilla 
then and there and he made such a thorough job of it 



i84 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

that she never meddled with anything in his office aft- 
erwards. We hear a great deal nowadays of some- 
thing that is called ' moral persuasion ' but in my opin- 
ion a good spanking and no nagging afterwards is a 
much better thing." 

Rilla wondered viciously whether Susan meant to 
relate all the family spankings. But Susan had fin- 
ished with the subject and branched off to another 
cheerful one. 

"I remember little Tod MacAUister over-harbour 
killed himself that very way, eating up a whole box - 
of fruitatives because he thought they were candy. \ 
It was a very sad affair. He was," said Susan ear- 
nestly, " the very cutest little corpse I ever laid my eyes 
on. It was very careless of his mother to leave the 
fruitatives where he could get them, but she was well- 
known to be a heedless creature. One day she found 
a nest of five eggs as she was going across the fields to 
church with a brand new blue silk dress on. So she 
put them in the pocket of her petticoat and when she 
got to church she forgot all about them and sat down 
on them and her dress was ruined, not to speak of the 
petticoat. Let me see — would not Tod be some rela- 
tion of yours? Your great grandmother West was 
a MacAllister. Her brother Amos was a Macdonald- 
ite in religion. I am told he used to take the jerks 
something fearful. But you look more like your great 
grandfather West than the MacAllisters. He died of 
a paral)rtic stroke quite early in life." 

"Did you see anybody at the store?" asked Rilla 
desperately, in the faint hope of directing Susan's 
conversation into more agreeable channels. r^ 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 185 

" Nobody except Mary Vance," said Susan, " and 
she was stepping round as brisk as the Irishman's flea." 

What terrible similes Susan used! Would Ken- 
neth think she acquired them from the family ! 

" To hear Mary talk about Miller Douglas you 
would think he was the only Glen boy who had en- 
listed," Susan went on. " But of course she always 
did brag and she has some good qualities I am willing 
to admit, though I did not think so that time she chased 
Rilla here through the village with a dried codfish till 
the poor child fell, heels over head, into the puddle 
before Carter Flagg's store." 

Rilla went cold all over with wrath and shame. 
Were there any more disgraceful scenes in her past 
that Susan could rake up ? As for Ken, he could have 
howled over Susan's speeches, but he would not so 
insult the duenna of his lady, so he sat with a pretef- 
naturally solemn face which seemed to poor Rilla a 
haughty and offended one. 

" I paid eleven cents for a bottle of ink tonight," 
complained Susan. " Ink is twice as high as it was 
last year. Perhaps it is because Woodrow Wilson has 
been writing so many notes. It must cost him con- 
siderable. My cousin Sophia says Woodrow Wilson is 
not the man she expected him to be — but then no man 
ever was. Being an old maid, I do not know much 
about men and have never pretended to, but my cousin 
Sophia is very hard on them, although she married two 
of them, which you might think was a fair share. Al- 
bert Crawford's chimney blew down in that big gale 
we had last week, and when Sophia heard the bricks 
clattering on the roof she thought it was a Zeppelin 



i86 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

raid and went into hysterics. And Mrs. Albert Craw- 
ford says that of the two things she would have pre- 
ferred the Zeppelin raid." 

Rilla sat limply in her chair like one hypnotized. 
She knew Susan would stop talking when she was 
ready to stop and that no earthly power could make 
her stop any sooner. As a rule, she was very fond of 
Susan but just now she hated her with a deadly hatred. 
It was ten o'clock. Ken would soon have to go — the 
others would soon be home — and she had not even 
had a chance to explain to Ken that Fred Arnold filled 
no blank in her life nor ever could. Her rainbow 
castle lay in ruins round her. 

Kenneth got up at last. He realized that Susan was 
there to stay as long as he did and it was a three mile 
walk to Martin West's, over-harbour. He won- 
dered if Rilla had put Susan up to this, not wanting 
to be left alone with him, lest he say something Fred 
Arnold's sweetheart did not want to hear. Rilla got 
up, too, and walked silently the length of the veranda 
with him. They stood there for a moment, Ken on 
the lower step. The step was half sunk into the 
earth and mint grew thickly about and over its edge. 
Often crushed by so many passing feet it gave out its 
essence freely, and the spicy odour hung around them 
like a soundless, invisible benediction. Ken looked up 
at Rilla, whose hair was shining in the moonlight and 
whose eyes were pools of allurement. All at once he 
felt sure there was nothing in that gossip about Freid 
Arnold. 

" Rilla," he said in a sudden, intense whisper, " you 
are the sweetest thing." 

Rilla flushed and looked at Susan. Ken looked, too, 



REALISM AND ROMANCE 187 

and saw that Susan's back was turned. He put his 
arm about Rilla and kissed her. It was the first time 
Rilla had ever been kissed. She thought perhaps she 
ought to resent it but she didn't. Instead, she glanced 
timidly into Kenneth's seeking eyes and her glance was 
a kiss. 

" Rilla-my-Rilla," said Ken, '* will you promise that 
you won't let any one else kiss you until I come back ? ** 

" Yes," said Rilla, trembling and thrilling. 

Susan was turning round. Ken loosened his hold 
and stepped to the walk. 

" Good-bye," he said casually. Rilla heard herself 
saying it just as casually. She stood and watched him 
down the walk, out of the gate, and down the road. 
When the fir wood hid him from her sight she sud- 
denly said " Oh," in a choked way and ran down to 
the gate, sweet blossomy things catching at her skirts 
as she ran. Leaning over the gate she saw Kenneth 
walking briskly down the road, over the bars of tree 
shadows and moonlight, his tall, erect figure grey in 
the white radiance. As he reached the turn he stopped 
and looked back and saw her standing amid the tall 
white lilies by the gate. He waved his hand — she 
waved hers — he was gone around the turn. 

Rilla stood there for a little while, gazing across the 
fields of mist and silver. She had heard her mother 
say that she loved turns in roads — they were so pro- 
vocative and alluring. Rilla thought she hated them. 
She had seen Jem and Jerry vanish from her around a 
bend in the road — then Walter — and now Ken. 
Brothers and playmate and sweetheart — they were all 
gone, never, it might be, to return. Yet still the Piper 
piped and the dance of death went on. 



i88 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

When Rilla walked slowly back to the house Susan 
was still sitting by the veranda table and Susan was 
sniffing suspiciously. 

" I have been thinking, Rilla dear, of the old days 
in the House of Dreams when Kenneth's mother and 
father were courting and Jem was a little baby and 
you were not bom or thought of. It was a very ro- 
mantic affair and she and your mother were such 
chums. To think I should have lived to see her son 
going to the front. As if she had not had enough 
trouble in her early life without this coming upon her! 
But we must take a brace and see it through." 

All Rilla' s anger against Susan had evaporated. 
With Ken's kiss still burning on her lips, and the won- 
derful significance of the promise he had asked thrilling 
heart and soul, she could not be angry with any one. 
She put her slim white hand into Susan's brown, work- 
hardened one and gave it a squeeze. Susan was a 
faithful old dear and would lay down her life for any 
one of them. 

"You are tired, Rilla dear, and had better go to 
bed," Susan said, patting her hand. " I noticed you 
were too tired to talk tonight. I am glad I came home 
in time to help you out. It is very tiresome trying to 
entertain young men when you are not accustomed 
to it." 

Rilla carried Jims upstairs and went to bed but not 
before she had sat for a long time at her window 
reconstructing her rainbow castle, with several added 
domes and turrets. 

" I wonder," she said to herself, " if I am, or am not 
engaged to Kenneth Ford.*' 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 189 



CHAPTER XVII 
The Weeks Wear By 

RILLA read her first love letter in her Rainbow 
Valley fir-shadowed nook, and a girl's first love 
letter, whatever blase, older people may think of it, is 
an event of tremendous importance in the teens. 
After Kenneth's regiment had left Kingsport there 
came a fortnight of dully-aching anxiety and when the 
congregation sang in church on Stmday evenings, 

" Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee 
For those in peril on the sea,* 



i> 



Rilla's voice always failed her, for with the words 
came a horribly vivid mind picture of a submarined 
ship sinking beneath pitiless waves amid the struggles 
and cries of drowning men. Then word came that 
Kenneth's regiment had arrived safely in England ; and 
now, at last, here was his letter. It began with some- 
thing that made Rilla supremely happy for the mo- 
ment and ended with a paragraph that crimsoned her 
cheeks with the wonder and thrill and delight of it. 
Between beginning and ending the letter was just such 
a jolly, newsy epistle as Ken might have written to 
any one ; but for the sake of that beginning and ending 
Rilla slept with the letter under her pillow for weeks, 
sometimes waking in the night to slip her fingers under 
and just touch it, and looked with secret pity on other 
girls whose sweethearts could never have written them 
anything half so wonderful and exquisite. Kenneth 
was not the son of a famous novelist for nothing. He 



190 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

*' had a way " of expressing things in a few poignant, 
significant words which seemed to suggest far more 
than they uttered, and never grew stale or flat or fool- 
ish with ever so many scores of readings. Rilla went 
home from Rainbow Valley as if she flew rather than 
walked. 

But such moments of uplift were rare that autumn. 
To be sure, there was one day in September when great 
news came of a big Allied victory in the west and 
Susan ran out to hoist the flag — the first time she had 
hoisted it since the Russian line broke and the last time 
she was to hoist it for many dismal moons. 

"Likely the Big Push has begun at last, Mrs. Dr. 
dear," she exclaimed, " and we will soon see the finish 
of the Huns. Our boys will be home by Christmas 
now. Hurrah ! " 

Susan was ashamed of herself for hurrahing the 
minute she had done it, and apologized meekly for such 
an outburst of juvenility. " But indeed, Mrs. Dr. 
dear, this good news has gone to my head after this 
awful summer of Russian slumps and Gallipoli set- 
backs." 

" Good news ! " said Miss Oliver bitterly. ** I won- 
der if the women whose men have been killed for it 
will call it good news. Just because our own men are 
not on that part of the front we are rejoicing as if 
the victory had cost no lives.'* 

" Now, Miss Oliver dear, do not take that view of 
it/' deprecated Susan. "We have not had much to 
rejoice over of late and yet men were being killed just 
the same. Do not let yourself slump like poor Cousin 
Sophia. She said, when this word came, ' Ah, it is 
nothing but a rift in the clouds. We are up this week 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 191 

but we will be down the next.' ' Well, Sophia Craw- 
ford,' said I — for I never will give in to her, Mrs. 
Dr. dear — * God Himself cannot make two hills with- 
out a hollow between them, as I have heard it said, but 
that is no reason why we should not take the good 
of the hills when we are on them.' But Cousin Sophia 
moaned on. / Here is the GaWipolly expedition a fail- 
ure and the Grand Duke Nicholas sent off, and every 
one knows the Czar of Rooshia is a pro-German and 
the Allies have no ammunition and Bulgaria is going 
against us. And the end is not yet, for England and 
France must be punished for their deadly sins until 
they repent in sackcloth and ashes.' ' I think myself,' 
I said, ' that they will do their repenting in khaki and 
trench mud, and it also seems to me that the Huns 
should have a few sins to repent of also.' * They are 
instruments in the hand of the Almighty, to purge the 
garner,' said Sophia. And then I got mad, Mrs. Dr. 
dear, and told her I did not and never would believe 
that the Almighty ever took such dirty instruments in 
hand for any purpose whatever, and that I did not 
consider it decent for her to be using the words of 
Holy Writ as glibly as she was doing in ordinary 
conversation. She was not, I told her, a minister or 
even an elder. And for the time being I squelched 
her, Mrs. Dr. dear. Cousin Sophia has no spirit. 
She is very different from her niece, Mrs. Dean Craw- 
ford over-harbour. You know the Dean Craw fords 
had five boys and now the new baby is another boy. 
All the connection and especially Dean Crawford were 
much disappointed because their hearts had been set 
on a girl ; but Mrs. Dean just laughed and said, 
* Everywhere I went this summer I saw the sign " men 



192 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

wanted" staring me in the face. Do you think I 
could go and have a girl imder such circtunstances ? * 
There is a spirit for you, Mrs. Dr. dear. But Cousin 
Sophia would say the child was just so much more 
cannon fodder." 

Cousin Sophia had full range for her pessimism 
that gloomy autumn, and even Susan, incorrigible old 
optimist as she was, was hard put to it for cheer. 
When Bulgaria lined up with Germany Susan only 
remarked scornfully, " One more nation anxious for 
a licking," but the Greek tangle worried her beyond 
her powers of philosophy to endure calmly. 

" Constantine of Greece has a German wife, Mrs. 
Dn dear, and that fact squelches hope. To think that 
I should have lived to care what kind of a wife Con- 
stantine of Greece had! The miserable creature is 
under his wife's thumb and that is a bad place for 
any man to be. / am an old maid and an old maid 
has to be independent or she will be squashed out 
But if I had been a married woman, Mrs. Dr. dear, I 
would have been meek and humble. It is my opinion 
that this Spohia of Greece is a minx." 

Susan was furious when the news came that Veni- 
zelos had met with defeat. 

" I could spank Constantine and skin him alive after- 
wards, that I could," she exclaimed bitterly. 

" Oh, Susan, Fm surprised at you," said the doctor, 
pulling a long face. " Have you no regard for the 
proprieties ? Skin him alive by all means but omit the 
spanking." 

" If he had been well spanked in his younger days he 
might have more sense now," retorted Susan. " But 
I suppose princes are never spanked, more is the pity. 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 193 

I see the Allies have sent him an ultimatum. I could 
tell them that it will take more than ultimatums to 
skin a snake like Constantine. Perhaps the Allied 
blockade will hammer sense into his head; but that 
will take some time I am thinking, and in the mean- 
time what is to become of poor Serbia? " 

They saw what became of Serbia, and during the 
process Susan was hardly to be lived with. In her 
exasperation she abused ever3rthing and everybody ex- 
cept Kitchener, and she fell upon poor President Wil- 
ton tooth and claw. 

"If he had done his duty and gone into the war 
long ago we should not have seen this mess in Serbia," 
she avowed. 

" It would be a serious thing to plunge a great 
country like the United States, with its mixed popu- 
lation, into the war, Susan," said the doctor, who 
sometimes came to the defence of the President, not 
because he thought Wilson needed it especially, but 
from an unholy love of baiting Susan. 

" Maybe, Dr. dear, — maybe ! But that makes me 
think of the old story of the girl who told her grand- 
mother she was going to be married. * It is a solemn 
thing to be married,' said the old lady. * Yes, but it is 
a solemner thing not to be,' said the girl. And I can 
testify to that out of my own experience, Dr. dear. 
And / think it is a solemner thing for the Yankees 
that they have kept out of the war than it would have 
been if they had gone into it. However, though I do 
not know much about them, I am of the opinion that 
we will see them starting something yet, Woodrow 
Wilson or no Woodrow Wilson, when they get it into 
their heads that this war is not a correspondence 



194 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

school. They will not/' said Susan, energetically wav- 
ing a saucepan with one hand and a soup ladle with the 
other, " be too proud to fight then." 

On a pale-yellow, windy evening in October Carl 
Meredith went away. He had enlisted on his eight- 
eenth birthday. John Meredith saw him off with a 
set face. His two bpys were gone — there was only 
little Bruce left now. He loved Bruce and Bruce's 
mother dearly; but Jerry and Carl were the sons of 
the bride of his youth and Carl was the only one of 
all his children who had Cecilia's very eyes. As they 
looked lovingly out at him above Carl's uniform the 
pale minister suddenly remembered the day when for 
the first and last time he had tried to whip Carl for his 
prank with the eel. That was the first time he had 
realized how much Carl's eyes were like Cecilia's. 
Now he realized it again once more. Would he ever 
again see his dead wife's eyes looking at him from 
his son's face? What a bonny, clean, handsome lad 
he was! It was — hard — to see him go. John 
Meredith seemed to be looking at a torn plain strewn 
with the bodies of " able-bodied men between the ages 
of eighteen and forty-five." Only the other day Carl 
had been a little scrap of a boy, hunting bugs in Rain- 
bow Valley, taking lizards to bed with him, and scan- 
dalizing the Glen by carrying frogs to Sunday School. 
It seemed hardly — right — somehow that he should 
be an " able-bodied " man in khaki. Yet John Mere- 
dith had said no word to dissuade him when Carl had 
told him he must go. 

Rilla felt Carl's going keenly. They had always 
been cronies and playmates. He was only a little 
older than she was and they had been children in Rain- 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 195 

bow Valley together. She recalled all their old pranks 
a|id escapades as she walked slowly home alone. The 
full moon peeped through the scudding clouds with 
sudden floods of weird illumination, the telephone 
wires sang a shrill sound in the wind, and the tall 
spikes of withered, grey-headed golden rod in the fence 
comers swayed and beckoned wildly to her like groups 
of old witches weaving unholy spells. On such a night 
as this, long ago, Carl would come over to Ingleside 
and whistle her out to the gate. " Let^s go on a moon- 
spree, Rilla," he would say, and the two of them would 
scamper off to Rainbow Valley. Rilla had never been 
afraid of his beetles and bugs, though she drew a hard 
and fast line at snakes. They used to talk together of 
almost everything and were teased about each other at 
school ; but one evening when they were about ten years 
of age they had solemnly promised, by the old spring 
in Rainbow Valley, that they would never marry each 
other. Alice Glow had *' crossed out " their names 
on her slate in school that day and it came out that 
"both married.'* They did not like the idea at all, 
hence the mutual vow in Rainbow Valley. There was 
nothing like an ounce of prevention. Rilla laughed 
over the old memory — and then sighed. That very 
day a dispatch from some London paper had contained 
the cheerful announcement that *' the present moment 
is the darkest since the war began.*' It was dark 
enough, and Rilla wished desperately that she could do 
something besides waiting and serving at home, as day 

' after day the Glen boys she had known went away. 

*• If she were only a boy, speeding in khaki by Garl's side 
to the western front! She had wished that in a burst 
of romance when Jem had gone, without, perhaps, 



196 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

really meaning it She meant it now. There were 
moments when waiting at home, in safety and comfort, 
seemed an tmendurable thing. 

The moon burst triumphandy through an especially 
dark cloud and shadow and silver chased each other in 
waves over the Slen. Rilla remembered one moonlit 
evening of childhood when she had said to her mother, 
" The moon just looks like a sorry, sorry face." She 
thought it looked like that still — an agonized, care- 
worn face, as though it looked down on dreadftil 
sights. What did it see on the western front? In 
broken Serbia ? On shell-swept Gallipoli ? 

" I am tired," Miss Oliver had said that day, in a 
rare outburst of impatience, " of this horrible rack of 
strained emotions, when every day brings a new hor- 
ror or the dread of it. No, don't look reproachfully 
at me, Mrs. BIythe. There's nothing heroic about me 
today. I've slumped. I wish England had left Bel- 
gium to her fate — I wish Canada had never sent a 
man — I wish we'd tied our boys to our apron strings 
and not let one of them go. Oh — I shall be ashamed 
of myself in half an hour — but at this very minute; I 
mean every word of it. Will the Allies never strike? " 

" Patience is a tired mare but she jogs on," said 
Susan. 

" While the steeds of Armageddon thunder, tram- 
pling over our hearts," retorted Miss Oliver. '* Serbia 
is being throttled and the Allies on the western front 
seem able to do nothing but purchase a few paltry 
yards of trenches a day. Susan, tell me — don't you 
ever — didn't you ever — take spells of feeling that 
you must scream — or swear — or smash something 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 197 

— just because your torture reaches a point when it 
becomes unbearable ? " 

" I have never sworn or desired tc swear, Miss 
Oliver dear, but I will admit," said Susan, with the air 
of one determined to make a clean breast of it once for 
all, " that I have experienced occasions when it was a 
relief to do considerable banging.** 

" Don't you think that is a kind of swearing, 
Susan? What is the difference between slamming a 
door viciously and saying d — *' 

" Miss Oliver dear,'* interrupted Susan, desperately 
determined to save Gertrude from herself, if human 
power could do it, " you are all tired out and unstrung 

— and no wonder, teaching those obstreperous young- 
sters all day and coming home to bad war news. But 
just you go upstairs and lie down and I will bring you 
up a cup of hot tea and a bite of toast and very soon 
you will not want to slam doors or swear.*' 

" Susan, you*re a good soul — a very pearl of 
Susans! But, Susan, it would be such a relief — to 
say just one soft, low, little tiny d — *' 

"I will bring you a hot water bottle for the soles of 
your feet, also,** interposed Susan resolutely, "and it 
would not be any relief to say that word you are think- 
ing of. Miss Oliver, and that you may tie to.** 

" Well, I'll try the hot water bottle first,'* said Miss 
Oliver, repenting herself of teasing Susan and vanish- 
ing upstairs, to Susan's intense relief. Susan shook 
her head ominously as she filled the hot water bottle. 
The war was certainly relaxing the standards of be- 
haviour woefully. Here was Miss Oliver admittedly 
on the point of profanity. 



198 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" We must draw the blood from her brain/* said 
Susan, "and if this bottle is not effective I will see 
what can be done with a mustard plaster." 

Gertrude rallied and carried on. Lord Kitchener 
went to Greece, whereat Susan foretold that Constan- 
tine would soon experience a change of heart Lloyd 
George began to heckle the Allies regarding equip- 
ment and guns and Susan said you would hear more 
of Lloyd George yet. The gallant Anzacs withdrew 
from Gallipoli and Susan approved the step, with 
reservations. The siege of Kut-El-Amara began and 
Susan pored over maps of Mesopotamia and abused 
the Turks. Henry Ford started for Europe and 
Susan flayed him with sarcasm. Sir John French was 
superseded by Sir Douglas Haig and Susan dubiously 
opined that it was poor policy to swap horses crossing 
a stream, ** though, to be sure, Haig was a good name 
and French had a foreign sound, say what you might" 
Not a move on the great chess board of king or bishop 
or pawn escaped Susan, who had once read only Glen 
St. Mary notes. " There was a time," she said sor- 
rowfully, " when I did not care what happened out- 
side of P. E. Island, and now a king cannot have a 
toothache in Russia or China but it worries me. It 
may be broadening to the mind, as the doctor said, but 
it is very painful to the feelings." 

When Christmas came again Susan did not set any 
vacant places at the festive board. Two empty chairs 
were too much even for Susan who had thought in 
September that there would not be one. 

"This is the first Christmas that Walter was not 
home," Rilla wrote in her diary that night " Jem used 
to be away for Christmases up in Avonlea, but Walter 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 199 

never was. I had letters from Ken and him today. 
They are still in England but expect to be in the 
trenches very soon. And then — but I suppose we'll 
be able to endure it somehow. To me, the strangest 
of all the strange things since 1914 is how we have all 
learned to accept things we never thought we could — 
to go on with life as a matter of course. I know that 
Jem and Jerry are in the trenches — that Ken and 
Walter will be soon — that if one of them does not 
come back my heart will break — yet I go on and work 
and plan — yes, and even enjoy life by times. There 
are moments when we have real fun because, just for 
the moment, we don't think about things and then — 
we remember — and the remembering is worse than 
thinking of it all the time would have been. 

" Today was dark and cloudy and tonight is wild 
enough, as Gertrude says, to please any novelist in 
search of suitable matter for a murder or elopement 
The raindrops streaming over the panes look like tears 
running down a face, and the wind is shrieking through 
the maple grove. 

" This hasn't been a nice Qiristmas day in any way. 
Nan had toothache and Susan had red eyes, and as- 
sumed a weird and gruesome flippancy of manner to 
deceive us into thinking she hadn't ; and Jims had a bad 
cold all day and Fm afraid of croup. He has had 
croup twice since October. The first time I was nearly 
frightened to death, for father and mother were both 
away — father always is away, it seems to me, when 
any of this household get sick. But Susan was cool 
as a fish and knew just what to do, and by morning 
Jims was all right. That child is a cross between a 
duck and an imp. He's a year and four months old, 



200 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

trots about everywhere, and says quite a few words. 
He has the cutest little way of calling me " Willa-will." 
It always brings back that dreadful, ridiculous, de- 
lightful night when Ken came to say good-bye, and I 
was so furious and happy. Jims is pink and white 
and big-eyed and curly-haired and every now and then 
I discover a new dimple in him. I can never quite be- 
lieve he is really the same creature as that scrawny, 
yellow, ugly little changeling I brought home in the 
soup tureen. Nobody has ever heard a word from 
Jim Anderson. If he never comes back I shall keep 
Jims always. Everybody here worships and spoils 
him — or would spoil him if Morgan and I didn't 
stand remorselessly in the way. Susan says Jims is 
the cleverest child she ever saw and can recognize Old 
Nick when he sees him — this because Jims threw poor 
Doc out of an upstairs window one day. Doc turned 
into Mr. Hyde on his way down and landed in a cur- 
rant bush, spitting and swearing. I tried to console 
his inner cat with a saucer of milk but he would have 
none of it, and remained Mr. Hyde the rest of the day. 
Jims' latest exploit was to paint the cushion of the big 
arm chair in the sun parlor with molasses ; and before 
anybody f otmd it out Mrs. Fred Clow came in on Red 
Cross business and sat down on it. Her new silk dress 
was ruined and nobody could blame her for being 
vexed. But she went into one of her tempers and said 
nasty things and gave me such slams about ' spoiling ' 
Jims that I nearly boiled over, too. But I kept the lid 
on till she had waddled away and then I exploded. 

" * The fat, clumsy, horrid old thing,' I said — and 
oh, what a satisfaction it was to say it. 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 201 

*' * She has three sons at the front/ mother said re- 
bukingly. 

" ' I suppose that covers all her shortcomings in 
manners/ I retorted. But I was ashamed — for it is 
true that all her boys have gone and she was very 
plucky and loyal about it too ; and she is a perfect tower 
of strength in the Red Cross. It's a little hard to re- 
member all the heroines. Just the same, it was her 
second new silk dress in one year and that when every- 
body is — or should be — trying to ' save and serve.' 

" I had to bring out my green velvet hat again lately 
and begin wearing it. ' I hung on to my blue straw 
sailor as long as I could. How I hate the green velvet 
hat ! It is so elaborate and conspicuous. I don^t see ' 
how I could ever have liked it. But I vowed to wear 
it and wear it I will. 

" Shirley and I went down to the station this morn- 
ing to take Little Dog Monday a bang-up Christmas 
dinnen Dog Monday waits and watches there still, 
with just as much hope and confidence as ever. Some- 
times he hangs around the station house and talks to 
people and the rest of his time he sits at his little ken- 
nel door and watches the track unwinkingly. We 
never try to coax him home now : we know it is of no 
use. When Jem comes back Monday will come home 
with him; and if Jem — never comes back — Monday 
will wait there for him as long as his dear dog heart 
goes on beating. 

" Fred Arnold was here last night. He was 
eighteen in November and is going to enlist just as 
soon as his mother is over an operation she has to have. 
He has been coming here very often lately and though 



202 RILLA OF 

I like him so much it makes me micomfortaUe, be- 
cause I am afraid he is thinking that perhaps I couW 
care something for hinu I can't tell him about Ken — 
because, after all, what is there to tell? And yet I 
don't like to behave coldly and distantly when he will 
be going away so soon. It is very perplexing. I re- 
member I used to think it would be such fun to have 
dozens of beaux — and now I'm worried to death be- 
cause two are too many. 

** I am learning to cook. Susan is teaching me. I 
tried to learn long ago — but no, let me be honest — 
Susan tried to teach me, which is a very diflferent thing. 
I never seemed to succeed with anything and I got dis- 
couraged. But since the boys have gone away I 
wanted to be able to make cake and things for them 
myself and so I started in again and this time I'm get- 
ting on surprisingly well. Susan says it is all in the 
way I hold my mouth and father says my subconscious 
mind is desirous of learning now, and I daresay they're 
both right. Anyhow, I can make dandy short-bread 
and fruit cake. I got ambitious last week and at- 
tempted cream puffs, but made an awful failure of 
them. They came out of the oven flat as flukes. I 
thought maybe the cream would fill them up again and 
make them plump but it didn't. I think Susan was 
secretly pleased. She is past mistress in the art of 
making cream puffs and it would break her heart if 
anyone else here could make them as well. I wonder 
if Susan tampered — but no, I won't suspect her of 
such a thing. 

** Miranda Pryor spent an afternoon here a few days 
ago, helping me cut out certain Red Cross garments 



THE WEEKS WEAR BY 203 

known by the charming name of 'vermin shirts.' 
Susan thinks that name is not quite decent, so I sug- 
gested she call them ' cootie sarks/ which is old High- 
land Sandy's version of it. But she shook her head 
and I heard her telling mother later on that, in her 
opinion, ' cooties ' and * sarks ' were not proper sub- 
jects for young girls to talk about. She was especially 
horrified when Jem wrote in his last letter to mother, 
' Tell Susan I had a fine cootie hunt this morning and 
caught fifty-three ! ' Susan positively turned pea- 
green. ' Mrs. Dr. dear,' she said, * when I was young, 
if decent people were so unfortunate as to get — those 
insects — they kept it a secret if possible. I do not 
want to be narrow-minded, Mrs. Dr. dear, but I still 
think it is better not to mention such things.' 

" Miranda grew confidential over our vermin shirts 
and told me all her troubles. She is desperately un- 
happy. She is engaged to Joe Milgrave and Joe joined 
up in October and has been training in Charlottetown 
ever since. Her father was furious when he joined 
and forbade Miranda ever to have any dealings or com- 
munication with him again. Poor Joe expects to go 
overseas any day and wants Miranda to marry him be- 
fore he goes, which shows that there have been ' com- 
munications ' in spite of Whiskers-on-the-moon. 
Miranda wants to marry him but cannot, and she de- 
clares it will break her heart. 

" * Why don't you run away and marry him ? ' I said. 
It didn't go against my conscience in the least to give 
her such advice. Joe Milgrave is a splendid fellow and 
Mr. Pryor fairly beamed on him until the war broke 
out and I knew Mr. Pryor would forgive Miranda very 



20+ RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

quickly, once it was over and he wanted his house- 
keeper back. But Miranda shook her silvery head 
dolefully. 

" ' Joe wants me to but I can't Mother's last words 
to me, as she lay on her dying bed, were, ''never, 
never nm away, Miranda," and I promised.' 

" Miranda's mother died, two years ago, and it seems, 
according to Miranda, that her mother and father ac- 
tually ran away to be married themselves. To picture 
Whiskers-on-the-moon as the hero of an elopement is 
beyond my power. But such was the case and Mrs. 
Pryor at least lived to repent it. She had a hard life of 
it with Mr. Pryor, and she thought it was a punish- 
ment on her for running away. So she made Miranda 
promise she would never, for any reason whatever, 
do it. 

"Of course, you cannot urge a girl to break a prom- 
ise made to a dying mother, so I did not see what 
Miranda could do unless she got Joe to come to the 
house when her father was away and marry her there. 
But Miranda said that couldn't be managed. Her 
father seemed to suspect she might be up to something 
of the sort and he never went away for long at a time, 
and, of course, Joe couldn't get leave of absence at an 
hour's notice. 

" ' No, I shall just have to let Joe go, and he will be 
killed — I know he will be killed — and my heart will 
break,' said Miranda, her tears running down and 
copiously bedewing the vermin shirts ! 

" I am not writing like this for lack of any real 
sympathy with poor Miranda. I've just got into the 
habit of giving things a comical twist if I can, when 
I'm writing to Jem and Walter and Ken, to make them 



A WAR WEDDING 205 

laugh. I really felt sorry for Miranda who is as much 
in love with Joe as a china-blue girl can be with any 
one and who is dreadfully ashamed of her father's pro- 
German sentiments. I think she understood that I 
did, for she said she had wanted to tell me all about her 
worries because I had grown so s)mipathetic this past 
year. I wonder if I have. I know I used to be a sel- 
fish, thoughtless creature — how selfish and thought- 
less I am ashamed to remembet now, so I can't be 
quite so bad as I was. 

" I wish I could help Miranda. It would be very 
romantic to contrive a war wedding and I should dearly 
love to get the better of Whiskers-on-the-moon. But 
at present the oracle has not spoken." 



CHAPTER XVIII 



A War Wedding 



I CAN tell you this Dr. dear," said Susan, pale with 
wrath, ** that Germany is getting to be perfectly 
ridiculous." 

They were all in the big Ingleside kitchen. Susan 
was mixing biscuits for supper. Mrs. Bl3rthe was 
making short-bread for Jem and Rilla was compound- 
ing candy for Ken and Walter — it had once been 
" Walter and Ken " in her thoughts but somehow, 
quite unconsciously, this had changed until Ken's 
name came naturally first. Cousin Sophia was also 
there, knitting. All the boys were going to be killed 



2o6 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

in the long run, so Cousin Sophia felt in her bones, but 
they might better die with warm feet than cold ones, 
so Cousin Sophia knitted faithfully and gloomily. 

Into this peaceful scene erupted the doctor, wrath- 
ful and excited over the burning of the Parliament 
Buildings in Ottawa. And Susan became automati- 
cally quite as wrathful and excited. 

" What will those Huns do next ? " she demanded. 
" Coming over here and burning our Parliament build- 
ings ! Did any one ever hear of such an outrage ? " 

'* We don't know that the Germans are responsible 
for this," said the doctor — much as if he felt quite 
sure they were, though. " Fires do start without their 
agency sometimes. And Uncle Mark MacAllister*s 
bam was burned last week. You can hardly accuse 
the Germans of that, Susan." 

" Indeed, Dr. dear, I do not know," Susan nodded 
slowly and portentously. " Whiskers-on-the-moon 
was there that very day. The fire broke out half an 
hour after he was gone. So much is a fact — but / 
shall not accuse a Presbyterian elder of burning any 
body's bam until I have proof. However, everybody 
knows, Dr. dear, that both Uncle Mark's boys have en- 
listed, and that Uncle Mark himself makes speeches at 
all the recruiting meetings. So no doubt Germany is 
anxious to get square with him." 

'' / could never speak at a recruiting meeting," said 
Cousin Sophia solemnly. ''/ could never reconcile 
it to my conscience to ask another woman's son to go, 
to murder and be murdered." 

"Could you not?" said Susan. "Well, Sophia 
Crawford, / felt as if I could ask any one to go when I 
read last night that there were no children under eight 



A WAR WEDDING 207 

years of age left alive in Poland. Think of that, 
Sophia Crawford '* — Susan shook a floury finger at 
Sophia — " not — one — child — under — eight — 
years — of — age ! " 

" I suppose the Germans has et 'em all/' sighed 
Cousin Sophia. 

"Well, no-o-o," said Susan reluctantly, as if she 
hated to admit that there was any crime the Huns 
couldn't be accused of. "The Germans have not 
turned cannibal yet — as far as I know. They have 
died of starvation and exposure, the poor little crea- 
tures. There is murdering for you, Cousin Sophia 
Crawford. The thought of it poisons every bite and 
sup I take." 

"I see that Fred Carson of Lowbridge has been 
awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal," remarked 
the doctor, over his local paper. 

" I heard that last week," said Susan. " He is a bat- 
talion runner and he did something extra brave and 
daring. His letter, telling his folks about it, came 
when his old Grandmother Carson was on her dying 
bed. She had only a few minutes more to live and the 
Episcopal minister, who was there, asked her if she 
would not like him to pray. ' Oh, yes, yes, you can 
pray,' she said impatient-like — she was a Dean, Dr. 
dear, and the Deans were always high-spirited — ' you 
can pray, but for pity's sake pray low and don't dis- 
turb me. I want to think over this splendid news and 
I have not much time left to do it.' That was Almira 
Carson all over. Fred was the apple of her eye. She 
was seventy-five years of age and had not a grey hair 
in her head, they tell me." 

" By the way, that reminds me — / found a grey hair 



2o8 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

this morning — my vciy first," said Mrs. BIythe. 

^ I have noticed that gray hair for some time, Mrs. 
Dr. dear, but I did not speak of h. Thought I to my- 
self, ' She has enough to bear/ But now that you have 
discovered it let me remind you that grey hairs are 
honoraUe/' 

"I must be getting old, Gilbert," Mrs. Blythc 
laughed a trifle ruefully. '' People are b^;inning to 
tell me I look so young. They never tell you that when 
you are young. But I shall not worry over my silver 
thread. I never liked red hair. Gilbert, did I ever 
tell you of that time, years ago at Green Gables, when 
I dyed my hair? Nobody but Manila and I knew 
about it." 

" Was that the reason you came out once with your 
hair shingled to the bone ? " 

" Yes. I bought a bottle of dye from a German Jew 
pedlar. I fondly expected it would turn my hair black 

— and it turned it green. So it had to be cut off." 

" You had a narrow escape, Mrs. Dr. dear," ex- 
claimed Susan. "Of course you were too young then 
to know what a German was. It was a special mercy of 
Providence that it was only green dye and not poison." 

" It seems hundreds of years since those Green 
Gable days," sighed Mrs. Kythe. " They belonged to 
another world altogether. Life has been cut in two 
by the chasm of the war. What is ahead I don't know 

— but it can't be a bit like the past. I wonder if those 
of us who have lived half our lives in the old world 
will ever feel wholly at home in the new." 

" Have you noticed," asked Miss Oliver, glancing up 
from her book, "how everything written before the 
war seems so far away now, too? One feels as if one 



A WAR WEDDING 209 

was reading something as ancient as the Iliad. This 
poem of Wordsworth's — the Senior class have it in 
their entrance work — Fve been glancing over it. Its 
classic calm and repose and the beauty of the lines seem 
to belong to another planet, and to have as little to do 
with the present world-welter as the evening star." 

" The only thing that I find much comfort in read- 
ing nowadays is the Bible," remarked Susan, whisking 
her biscuits into the oven. " There are so many pas- 
sages in it that seem to me exactly descriptive of the 
Htms. Old Highland Sandy declares that there is no 
doubt that the Kaiser is the Anti-Christ spoken of in 
Revelations, but I do not go as far as that. It would, 
in my humble opinion, Mrs. Dr. dear, be too great an 
honour for him." 

Early one morning, several days later, Miranda 
Pryor slipped up to Ingleside, ostensibly to get some 
Red Cross sewing, but in reality to talk over with sym- 
pathetic Rilla troubles that were past bearing alone. 
She brought her dog with her — an over-fed, bandy- 
legged little animal very dear to her heart because Joe 
Milgrave had given it to her when it was a puppy. 
Mr. Pryor regarded all dogs with disfavour; but in 
those days he had looked kindly upon Joe as a suitor for 
Miranda's hand and so he had allowed her to keep the 
puppy. Miranda was so grateful that she endeavoured 
to please her father by naming her dog after his politi- 
cal idol, the great Liberal chieftain. Sir Wilfrid 
Laurier — though this title was soon abbreviated to 
Wilfy. Sir Wilfrid grew and flourished and waxed 
fat ; but Miranda spoiled him absurdly and nobody else 
liked him. Rilla especially hated him because of what 
she thought his detestable trick of lying flat on his back 



210 RILLA OF INGLESTOE 

and entreating you with waving paws to tickle his slcdc 
stomach. When she saw that Miranda's pak c^^cs bote 
unmistakable testimony to her having cried all n^fat, 
Rilla asked her to come up to her room, knowiisg that 
Miranda had a tale of woe to tell, but she cmicTcd Sir 
Wilfrid to remain below. 

** Oh, can't he come, too? " said Miranda wistfully. 
" Poor Wilfy won't be any bother — and I w^cd his 
paws"XO carefully before I brought him in. He is al- 
ways so lonesome in a strange place without me — and 
very soon hell be — all — 111 have left — to remind 
me — of Joe." 

Rilla 3rielded, and Sir Wilfrid, with his tail curled at 
a saucy angle over his brindled bade, trotted trium- 
phantly up the stairs before them. 

** Oh, Rilla/' sobbed Miranda, when they had readied 
sanctuary. ''I'm so unhappy. I can't b^in to tell 
you how unhappy I am. Truly, my heart is breakii^." 

Rilla sat down on the lounge b^ide her. Sir Wil- 
frid squatted on his haunches before them, with his 
impertinent pink tongue stuck out, and listened. 

" What is the trouble, Miranda? " 

''Joe is coming home tonight on his last leave. I 
had a letter from him Saturday — he sends my letters 
in care of Bob Crawford, you know, because of father 
— and, oh, Rilla, he will only have four days — he has 
to go away Friday morning — and I may never sec 
him again." 

"Does he still want you to marry him?" asked 
Rilla. 

" Oh, yes. He implored me in his letter to run 
away and be married. But I cannot do that, Rilla, not 
even for Joe. My only comfort is that I will be able to 



A WAR WEDDING 211 

see him for a little while tomorrow afternoon. Father 
has to go to Charlottetown on business. At least we 
will have one good farewell talk. But oh — after- 
wards — why, Rilla, I know father wonH even let me 
go to the station Friday morning to see Joe off.*' 

" Why in the world don't you and Joe get married 
tomorrow afternoon at home? " demanded Rilla. 

Miranda swallowed a sob in such amazement that 
she almost choked. 

" Why — why — that is impossible, Rilla." 

"Why?" briefly demanded the organizer of the 
Junior Red Cross and the transporter of babies in soup 
tureens. 

" Why — why — we never thought of such a thing 
— Joe hasn't a license — I have no dress — I couldn't 
be married in black — I — I — we — you — you — " 

Miranda lost herself altogether and Sir Wilfrid, 
seeing that she was in dire distress, threw back his head 
and emitted a melancholy yelp. 

Rilla Blythe thought hard and rapidly for a few min- 
utes. Then she said, 

" Miranda, if you will put yourself into my hands 
I'll have you married to Joe before four o'clock tomor- 
row afternoon." 

" Oh, you couldn't." 

" I can and I will. But you'll have to do exactly as 
I tell you." 

" Oh — I — don't think — oh, father will kill me—" 

" Nonsense. Hell be very angry I suppose. But 
are you more afraid of your father's anger than you 
are of Joe's never coming back to you? " 

" No," said Miranda, with sudden firmness, " I'm 
not." 



212 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



" Will you do as I tell you then ? " 

" Yes, I wiU;* 

" Then get Joe on the long-distance at once and tell 
him to bring out a license and ring tonight." 

"Oh, I couldn't," wailed the aghast Miranda, "it 
— it would be so — so indelicate/' 

Rilla shut her little white teeth together with a snap. 
" Heaven grant me patience," she said under her 
breath. " TU do it then," she said aloud, "and 
meanwhile, you go home and make what preparations 
you can. When I 'phone down to you to come up and 
help me sew come at once." 

As soon as Miranda, pallid, scared, but desperately 
resolved, had gone, Rilla flew to the telephone and put 
in a long-distance call for Charlottetown. She got 
through with such surprising quickness that she was 
convinced Providence approved of her undertaking, 
but it was a good hour before she could get into touch 
with Joe Milgrave at his camp. Meanwhile, she paced 
impatiently about, and prayed that when she did get 
Joe there would be no listeners on the line to carry news 
to Whiskers-on-the-moon. 

" Is that you, Joe ? Rilla Blythe is speaking — 
Rilla — Rilla — oh, never mind. Listen to this. Be- 
fore you come home tonight get a marriage license — 
a marriage license — yes, a marriage license — and a 
wedding ring. Did you get that? And will you do 
it? Very well, be sure you do it — it is your only 
chance." 

Flushed with triumph — for her only fear was that 
she might not be able to locate Joe in time — Rilla rang 
the Pryor ring. This time she had not such good luck 
for she drew Whiskers-on-the-moon. 



A WAR WEDDING 213 

" Is that Miranda? Oh — Mr. Pryor ! Well, Mr. 
Pryor, will you kindly ask Miranda if she can come up 
this afternoon and help me with some sewing. It is 
very important, or I would not trouble her. Oh — 
thank you." 

Mr. Pryor had consented somewhat grumpily, but 
he had consented — he did not want to offend Dr. 
BIythc, and he knew that if he refused to allow Miranda 
to do any Red Cross work public opinion would make 
the Glen too hot for comfort. Rilla went out to the 
kitchen, shut all the doors with a mysterious expres- 
sion which alarmed Susan, and then said solemnly. 

" Susan, can you make a wedding cake this after- 
noon?'' 

" A wedding cake ! " Susan stared. Rilla had, with- 
out any warning, brought her a war baby once upon a 
time. Was she now, with equal suddenness, going to 
produce a husband ? 

"Yes, a wedding cake — ^^a scrumptious wedding 
cake, Susan, — a beautiful, plummy, eggy, citron-peely 
wedding cake. And we must make other things too. 
I'll help you in the morning. But I can't help you this 
afternoon for I have to make a wedding dress and 
time is the essence of the contract, Susan." 

Susan felt that she was really too old to be subjected 
to such shocks. 

" Who are you going to marry, Rilla ? " she asked 
feebly. 

" Susan, darling, / am not the happy bride. 
Miranda Pryor is going to marry Joe Milgrave tomor- 
row afternoon while her father is away in town. A 
war wedding, Susan — isn't that thrilling and roman- 
tic? I never was so excited in my life." 



1 



214 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

The excitement soon spread over Ingleside, infect- 
ing even Mrs. BIythe and Susan. 

" ril go to work on that cake at once," vowed Susan, 
with a glance at the clock. " Mrs. Dr. dear, will you 
pick over the fruit and beat up the eggs? If you will, 
I can have that cake ready for the oven oy the evening. 
Tomorrow morning we can make salads and other 
things. I will work all night if necessary to get the 
better of Whiskers-on-the-moon." 

Miranda arrived, tearful and breathless. 

" We must fix over my white dress for you to 
wear," said Rilla. " It will fit you very nicely with a 
little alteration." 

To work went the two girls, ripping, fitting, basting, 
sewing, for dear life. By dint of unceasing effort they 
got the dress done by seven o'clock and Miranda tried it 
on in Rilla's room. 

" It's very pretty — but oh, if I could just have a 
veil," sighed Miranda. " Fve always dreamed of be- 
ing married in a lovely white veil." 

Some good fairy evidently waits on the wishes of 
war brides. The door opened and Mrs. BIythe came 
in, her arms full of a filmy burden. 

" Miranda dear," she said, " I want you to wear my 
wedding veil tomorrow. It is twenty-four years since 
I was a bride at old Green Gables — the happiest bride 
that ever was — and the wedding veil of a happy bride 
brings good luck, they say." 

" Oh, how sweet of you, Mrs. BIythe," said Miranda, 
the ready tears starting to her eyes. 

The veil was tried on and draped. Susan dropped 
in to approve but dared not linger. * 

" I've got that cake in the oven," she said, " and I 



A WAR WEDDING 215 

am pursuing a policy of watchful waiting. The eve- 
ning news is that the Grand Duke has captured Erze- 
rum. That is a pill for the Turks. I wish I had a 
chance to tell the Czar just what a mistake he made 
when he turned Nicholas down." 

Susan disappeared downstairs to the kitchen, 
whence a dreadful thud and a piercing shriek presently 
soimded. Everybody rushed to the kitchen — the 
doctor and Miss Oliver, Mrs. Blythe, Rilla, Miranda 
in her wedding veil. Susan was sitting flatly in the 
middle of the kitchen floor with a dazed, bewildered 
look on her face, while " Doc," evidently in his Hyde 
incarnation, was standing on the dresser, with his back 
up, his eyes blazing, and his tail the size of three tails. 

" Susan, what has happened? " cried Mrs. Blythe in 
alarm. " Did you fall ? Are you hurt ? " 

Susan picked herself up. 

" No," she said grimly, " I am not hurt, though I am 
jarred all over. Do not be alarmed. As for what has 
happened — I tried to kick that darned cat with both 
feet, that is what has happened." 

Everybody shrieked with laughter. The doctor was 
quite helpless. 

" Oh, Susan, Susan," he gasped. " That I should 
live to hear you swear." 

" I am sorry," said Susan in real distress, " that I 
used such an expression before two young girls. But 
I said that beast was darned and darned it is. It be- 
longs to the old Nick." 

" Do you expect it will vanish some of these dajrs 
with a bang and the odor of brimstone, Susan? " 

" It will go to its own place in due time and that you 
may tie to," said Susan dourly, shaking out her raddled 



2i6 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

bones and going to her oven. '' I suppose my phmking 
down like that has shaken my cake so that it will be as 
heavy as lead." 

But the cake was not heavy. It was all a bride's 
cake should be, and Susan iced it beautifully. Next 
day she and Rilla worked all the forenoon, making 
delicacies for the wedding feast, and as soon as 
Miranda 'phoned up that her father was safely off 
everything was packed in a big hamper and taken down 
to the Pryor house. Joe soon arrived in his uniform 
and a state of violent excitement, accompanied by his 
best man, Sergeant Malcolm Crawford. There were 
quite a few guests, for all the Manse and Ingleside 
folk were there, and a dozen or so of Joe's relatives, in- 
cluding his mother, " Mrs. Dead Angus Milgrave," so 
called, cheerfully, to distinguish her from another lady 
whose Angus was living. Mrs. Dead Angus wore a 
rather disapproving expression, not caring overmuch 
for this alliance with the house of Whiskers-on-the 
moon. 

So Miranda Pryor was married to Pte. Joseph Mil- 
grave on his last leave. It should have been a romantic 
wedding but it was not. There were too many factors 
working against romance, as even Rilla had to admit. 
In the first place, Miranda, in spite of her dress and 
veil, was such a flat-faced, commonplace, uninteresting 
little bride. In the second place, Joe cried bitterly all 
through the ceremony, and this vexed Miranda unrea- 
sonably. Long afterwards she told Rilla : " I just 
felt like saying to him then and there, * If you feel so 
bad over having to marry me you don't have to.* But 
it was just because he was thinking all the time of how 
soon he would have to leave me." 



A WAR WEDDING 217 

In the third place, Jims, who was usually so well- 
behaved in public, took a fit of shyness and contrari- 
ness combined, and began to cry at the top of his voice 
for "Willa." Nobody wanted to take him out, be- 
cause everybody wanted to see the marriage, so Rilla 
who was bridesmaid, had to take him and hold him 
during the ceremony. 

In the fourth place. Sir Wilfrid Laurier took a fit. 

Sir Wilfrid was entrenched in a corner of the room 
behind Miranda's piano. During his seizure he made 
the weirdest, most unearthly noises. He would begin 
with a series of choking, spasmodic sounds, continuing 
into a gruesome gurgle, and ending up with a strangled 
howl. Nobody could hear a word Mr. Meredith was 
saying, except now and then, when Sir Wilfrid stopped 
for breath. Nobody looked at the bride except Susan, 
who never dragged her fascinated eyes from Miranda's 
face — all the others were gazing at the dog. 
Miranda had been trembling with nervousness but as 
soon as Sir Wilfrid began his performance she forgot 
it. All that she could think of was that her dear dog 
was dying and she could not go to him. She never 
remembered a word of the ceremony. 

Rilla, who in spite of Jims, had been trying her best 
to look rapt and romantic, as beseemed a war brides- 
maid, gave up the hopeless attempt, and devoted her 
energies to choking down untimely merriment. She 
dared not look at anybody in the room, especially Mrs. 
Dead Angus, for fear all her suppressed mirth should 
suddenly explode in a most un-young-ladylike yell of 
laughter. 

But married they were, and then they had a wedding 
supper in the dining room which was so lavish and" 



2i8 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

bountiful that you would have thought it was the pro- 
duct of a month's labor. Everybody had broc^t 
something. Mrs. Dead Angus Icid brought a large 
apple pie, which she placed on a chair in the dining 
room and then absently sat down on it. Neidier her 
temper nor her black silk wedding garment was im- 
proved thereby, but the pie was never missed at the gay 
bridal feast. Mrs. Dead Angus eventually took it 
home with her again. Whiskers-on-the-moon's pad- 
fist pig should not get it, anyhow. 

That evening Mr. and Mrs. Joe, accompanied by the 
recovered Sir Wilfrid, departed for the Four Winds 
lighthouse, which was kept by Joe's uncle and in 
which they meant to spend their brief honejrmoon. 
Una Meredith and Rilla and Susan washed the dishes, 
tidied up, left a cold supper and Miranda's pitiful little 
note on the table for Mr. Pryor, and walked home, 
while the mystic veil of dreamy, haunted winter twi- 
light wrapped itself over the Glen. 

" I would really not have minded being a war-bride 
myself," remarked Susan sentimentally. 

But Rilla felt rather flat — perhaps as a reaction to 
all the excitement and rush of the past thirty-six hours. 
She was disappointed somehow — the whole affair had 
been so ludicrous, and Miranda and Joe so lachrymose 
and commonplace. 

" If Miranda hadn't given that wretched dog such an 
enormous dinner he wouldn't have had that fit," she 
said crossly. " I warned her — but she said she 
couldn't starve the poor dog — he would soon be all she 
had left, etc. I could have shaken her." 

'* The best man was more excited than Joe was," 
said Susan. " He wished Miranda many happy re- 



i 



A WAR WEDDING a 19 

turns of the day. She did hot look very happy, but 
perhaps you could not expect that under the circum- 
stances." 

" Anyhow/' thought Rilla, " I can write a perfectly 
killing account of it all to the boys. How Jem will 
howl over Sir Wilfrid's part in it! " 

But if Rilla was rather disappointed in the war wed- 
ding she found nothing lacking on Friday morning 
when Miranda said good-bye to her bridegroom at the 
Glen station. The dawn was white as a pearl, clear as 
a diamond. Behind the station the balsamy copse of 
young firs was frost-misted* The cold moon of dawn 
hung over the westering snow fields but the golden 
fleeces of sunrise shone above the maples up at Ingle- 
side. Joe took his pale little bride in his arms and she 
lifted her face to his. Rilla choked suddenly. It did 
not matter that Miranda was insignificant and common- 
place and flat- featured. It did not matter that she was 
the daughter of Whiskers-on-the-moon. All that mat- 
tered was that rapt, sacrificial look in her eyes — that 
ever-burning, sacred fire of devotion and loyalty and 
fine courage that she was mutely promising Joe she and 
thousands of other women would keep alive at home 
while their men held the western front. 

Rilla walked away, realizing that she must not spy 
on such a moment. She went down to the end of the 
platform where Sir Wilfrid and Dog Monday were sit- 
ting, looking at each other. 

Sir Wilfrid remarked condescendingly, 

** Why do you haunt this old shed when you might 
lie on the hearthrug at Ingleside and live on the fat of 
the land ? Is it a pose ? Or a fixed idea ? " 

Whereat Dog Monday, laconically : — 



220 RILLA OF IN GLESIDE 



^ I have a tryst to keep.'* 

When the train had gone Rilla rejomcd tbe fittk 
tremUing Miranda. 

^ Well, he's gone/' said Miranda, '^ and he may iktct 
come back — but I'm his wife, and Fm goii^ to be 
worthy of him. I'm going home." 

** Don't you think you had better come with me 
now?" asked Rilla doubtfully. Nobody knew yet 
how Mr. Pryor had taken the matter. 

** No. If Joe can face the Huns I guess I can face 
father/' said Miranda daringly. "A soldier's wife 
can't be a coward. Come on, Wilfy. Ill go straight 
home and meet the worst." 

There was nothing very dreadful to face, however. 
Perhaps Mr. Pryor had reflected that housekeepers 
were hard to get and that there were many Milgrave 
homes open to Miranda — also, that there was such a 
thing as a separation allowance. At all events, though 
he told her grumpily that she had made a nice fool of 
herself, and would live to regret it, he said nothing 
worse and Mrs. Joe put on her apron and went to work 
as usual, while Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who had a poor 
opinion of lighthouses for winter residences, went to 
sleep in his pet nook behind the woodbox, a thankful 
dog that he was done with war weddings. 



"THEY SHALL NOT PASS" 221 



tt 



CHAPTER XIX 



They Shall Not Pass'' 



ONE cold grey morning in February, Gertrude Ol- 
iver wakened with a shiver, slipped into Rilla's 
room, and crept in beside her. 

" Rilla — Fm frightened — frightened as a baby — 
I've had another of my strange dreams. Something 
terrible is before us — I know.'* 

" What was it? " asked Rilla. 

" I was standing again on the veranda steps — just 
as I stood in that dream on the night before the light- 
house dance, and in the sky a huge black, menacing 
thunder cloud rolled up from the east. I could see its 
shadow racing before it and when it enveloped me I 
shivered with icy cold. Then the storm broke — and 
it was a dreadful storm — blinding flash after flash 
and deafening peal after peal, driving torrents of rain. 
I turned in panic and tried to run for shelter, and as I 
did so a man — a soldier in the uniform of a French 
army officer — dashed up the steps and stood beside me 
on the threshold of the door. His clothes were soaked 
with blood from a wound in his breast, he seemed 
spent and exhausted ; but his white face was set and his 
eyes blazed in liis hollow face. ' They shall not pass/ 
he said, in low, passionate tones which I heard dis- 
tinctly amid all the turmoil of the storm. Then I 
awakened. Rilla, I'm frightened — the spring will 
not bring the Big Push we've all been hoping for — 
instead it is going to bring some dreadful blow to 



222 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

France. I am sure of itr The Germans will try to 
smash through somewhere." 

" But he told you that they would not pass/* said 
Rilla, seriously. She never laughed at Gertrude's 
dreams as the doctor did. 

" I do not know if that was prophecy or despera- 
tion. Rilla, the horror of that dream holds me yet in 
an icy grip. We shall need all our courage before 
long." 

Dr. Blythe did laugh at the breakfast table — but 
he never laughed at Miss Oliver's dreams again ; for 
that day brought news of the opening of the Verdun 
offensive, and thereafter through all the beautiful 
weeks of spring the Ingleside family, one and all, lived 
in a trance of dread. There were days when they 
waited in despair for the end as foot by foot the Ger- 
mans crept nearer and nearer to the grim barrier of 
desperate France. 

Susan's deeds were in her spotless kitchen at Ingle- 
side, but her thoughts were on the hills around Verdun. 
" Mrs. Dr. dear," she would stick her head in at Mrs. 
Blythe's door the last thing at night to remark, " I do 
hope the French have hung on to the Crow's Wood 
today," and she woke at dawn to wonder if Dead 
Man's Hill — surely so named by some prophet — was 
still held by the " poyloos." Susan could have drawn 
a map of the country around Verdun that would have 
satisfied a chief of staff. 

"If the Germans capture Verdun the spirit of 
France will be broken," Miss Oliver said bitterly. 

" But they will not capture it," staunchly said Susan, 
who could not eat her dinner that day for fear lest they 
do that very thing. " In the first place, you dreamed 



"THEY SHALL NOT PASS" 223 

they would not — you dreamed the very thing the 
French are saying before they ever said it — 'they 
shall not pass.' I declare to you, Miss Oliver, dear, 
when I read that in the paper, and remembered your 
dream, I went cold all over with awe. It seemed to me 
like Biblical times when people dreamed things like 
that quite frequently. 

" I know — I know," said Gertrude, walking rest- 
lessly about. " I cling to a persistent faith in my 
dream, too — but every time bad news comes it fails 
me. Then I tell myself * mere coincidence ' — ' sub- 
conscious memory ' and so forth." 

" I do not see how any memory could remember a 
thing before it was ever said at all," persisted Susan, 
"though of course / am not educated like you and 
the doctor. I would rather not be, if it makes any- 
thing as simple as that so hard to believe. But in any 
case we need not worry over Verdun, even if the Huns 
get it. Joffer says it has no military significance." 

" That old sop of comfort has been served up too 
often already when reverses came," retorted Gertrude. 
" It has lost its power to charm." 

" Was there ever a battle like this in the world be- 
fore ? " said Mr. Meredith, one evening in mid- April. 

" It*s such a titanic thing we can't grasp it," said the 
doctor. "What were the scraps of a few Homeric 
handfuls compared to this? The whole Trojan war 
might be fought around a Verdun fort and a news- 
paper correspondent would give it no more than a sen- 
tence. I am not in the confidence of the occult pow- 
ers " — the doctor threw Gertrude a twinkle — " but I 
have a hunch that the fate of the whole war hangs on 
the issue of Verdun. As Susan and Joffre say, it has 






224 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

no real military significance ; but it has the tremendous 
significance of an Idea. If Germany wins there she 
will win the war. If she loses, the tide will set against 
her." . 

Lose she will," said Mr. Meredith emphatically. 

The Idea cannot be conquered* France is certainly 
very wonderful. It seems to me that in her I see the 
white form of civilization making a determined stand 
against the black powers of barbarism. I think our 
whole world realizes this and that is why we all await 
the issue so breathlessly. It isn't merely the question 
of a few forts changing hands or a few miles of blood- 
soaked ground lost and won." 

*' I wonder," said Gertrude dreamily, " if some great 
blessing, great enough for the price, will be the meed 
of all our pain? Is the agony in which the world is 
shuddering the birth-pang of some wondrous new era? 
Or is it merely a futile 

' struggle of ants 

In the gleam of a million million of suns ' ? 

We think very lightly, Mr. Meredith, of a calamity 
which destroys an ant-hill and half its inhabitants. 
Does the Power that runs the universe think «^ of more 
importance than we think ants? " 

" You forget," said Mr. Meredith, with a flash of 
his dark eyes, "that an infinite Power must be in- 
finitely little as well as infinitely great. We are 
neither, therefore there are things too little as well as 
too great for us to apprehend. To the infinitely little 
an ant is of as much importance as a mastodon. We 
are witnessing the birth-pangs of a new era — but it 
will be born a feeble, wailing life like everything else. 



"THEY SHALL NOT PASS" 225 

I am not one of those who expect a new heaven and 
a new earth as the immediate result of this war. That 
is not the way God works. But work He does, Miss 
Oliver, and in the end His purpose will be fulfilled." 

" Sound and orthodox — sound and orthodox," 
muttered Susan approvingly in the kitchen. Susan 
liked to see Miss Oliver sat upon by the minister now 
and then. Susan was very fond of her but she thought 
Miss Oliver liked saying heretical things to ministers 
far too well, and deserved an occasional reminder that 
these matters were quite beyond her province. 

In May Walter wrote home that he had been 
awarded a D. C. Medal. He did not say what for, but 
the other boys took care that the Glen should know the 
brave thing Walter had done. " In any war but this," 
wrote Jerry Meredith, " it would have meant a V.C 
But they can't make V.C.'s as common as the brave 
things done every day here." 

" He should have had the V.C," said Susan, and 
was very indignant over it. She was not quite sure 
who was to blame for his not getting it but if it were 
General Haig she began for the first time to entertain 
serious doubts as to his fitness for being Commander- 
in-Chief. 

Rilla was beside herself with delight. It was her 
dear Walter who had done this thing — Walter, to 
whom some one had sent a white feather at Redmond 
— it was Walter who had dashed back from the safety 
of the trench to drag in a wounded comrade who had 
fallen on No-man's-land. Oh, she could see his white 
beautiful face and wonderful eyes as he did itl What 
a thing to be the sister of such a hero ! And he hadn't 
thought it worth while writing about. His letter was 



226 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

full of other things — little intimate things that the? 
two had known and loved together in the dear old 
cloudless days of a century ago. 

** Fve been thinking of the daflFodils in the garden 
at Ingleside/' he wrote. "By the time you get 
this they will be out, blowing there under that 
lovely rosy sky. Are they really as bright and golden 
as ever, Rilla? It seems to me that they must be dyed 
red with blood — like our poppies here. And every 
whisper of spring will be falling as a violet in Rain- 
bow Valley. 

" There is a young moon tonight — a slender, silver, 
lovely thing hanging over these pits of torment Will 
you see it tonight over the maple grove? 

" I'm enclosing a little scrap of verse, Rilla. I 
wrote it one evening in my trench dug-out by the light 
of a bit of candle — or rather it came to me there — I 
didn't feel as if I were writing it — something seemed 
to use me as an instrument. I've had that feeling once 
or twice before but very rarely and never so strongly 
as this time. That was why I sent it over to the Lon- 
don Spectator. It printed it and the copy came today. 
I hope you'll like it. It's the only poem I've written 
since I came overseas." 

The poem was a short, poignant little thing. In a 
month it had carried Walter's name to every comer of 
the globe. Everywhere it was copied — in metropoli- 
tan dailies and little village weeklies, in profound re- 
views and " agony columns," in Red Cros^ appeals and 
Government recruiting propaganda. Mothers and sis- 
ters wept over it, young lads thrilled to it, the whole 
great heart of humanity caught it up as an epitome of 
all the pain and hope and pity and purpose of the 



it 



"THEY SHALL NOT PASS" 227 

mighty conflict, crystallized in three brief immortal 
verses. A Canadian lad in the Flanders trenches had 
written the one great poem of the war. " The Piper," 
by Pte. Walter Blythe, was a classic from its first print- 
ing. 

Rilla copied it in her diary at the beginning of an 
entry in which she poured out the story of the hard 
week that had just passed. 

It has been such a dreadful week,'' she wrote, 

and even though it is over and we know that it was 
all a mistake that does not seem to do away with the 
bruises left by it. And yet it has in some ways been 
a very wonderful week and I have had some glimpses 
of things I never realized before — of how fine and 
brave people can be even in the midst of horrible suf- 
fering. I am sure I could never be as splendid as 
Miss Oliver was. 

" Just a week ago today she had a letter from Mr. 
Grant's mother in Charlottetown. And it told her that 
a cable had just come saying that Major Robert Grant 
had been killed in action a few days before. 

" Oh, poor Gertrude ! At first she was crushed. 
Then after just a day she pulled herself together and 
went back to her school. She did not cry — I never 
saw her shed a tear — ^ but oh, her face and her eyes ! 

" ' I must go on with my work,' she said. * That is 
my duty just now.' 

*^ I could never have risen to such a height. 

" She never spoke bitterly except once, when Susan 
said something about spring being here at last, and 
Gertrude said, 

' Can the spring really come this year ? ' 

Then she laughed — such a dreadful little laugh. 



€t 
€€ 



228 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

just as one might laugfa in the face of death, I think, 
and said, 

" ' Observe my ^otism. Because I, (Sertrude 
Oliver, have lost a friend, it is incredible that the 
spring can come as usuaL The spring does not fail 
because of the million agonies of others — but for 
mine — oh, can the universe go on ? ' 

" ' Don't feel bitter with yourself, dear,' mother said 
gently. * It is a very natural thing to feel as if things 
couldn't go on just the same when some g^reat blow 
has changed the world for us. We all feel like that' 

"Then that horrid old Cousin Sophia of Susan's 
piped up. She was sitting there, knitting and croak- 
ing like an old * raven of bode and woe ' as Walter 
used to call her. 

" * You ain't as bad off as some. Miss Oliver,' she 
said, 'and you shouldn't take it so hard. There's 
some as has lost their husbands; that's a hard blow; 
and there's some as has lost their sons. You haven't 
lost either husband or son.' 

" * No,' said Gertrude, more bitterly still. ' It's 
true I haven't lost a husband — I have only lost the 
man who would have been my husband. I have lost 
no son — only the sons and daughters who might have 
been born to me — who will never be born to me now.' 

" ' It isn't ladylike to talk like that,' said Cousin 
Sophia in a shocked tone ; and then Gertrude laughed 
right out, so wildly that Cousin Sophia was really 
frightened. And when poor tortured Gertrude, un- 
able to endure it any longer, hurried out of the room, 
Cousin Sophia asked mother if the blow hadn't af- 
fected Miss Oliver's mind. 



"THEY SHALL NOT PASS" 229 

" ' I suffered the loss of two good kind partners/ 
she said, ' but it did not affect me like that/ 

" I should think it wouldn't ! Those poor men must 
have been thankful to die. 

" I heard Gertrude walking up and down her room 
most of the night. She walked like that every night. 
But never so long as that night. And once I heard 
her give a dreadful sudden little cry as if she had been 
stabbed. I couldn't sleep for suffering with her; and 
I couldn't help her. I thought the night would never 
end. But it did; and then * joy came in the morning ' 
as the Bible says. Only it didn't come exactly in the 
morning but well along in the afternoon. The tele- 
phone rang and I answered it. It was old Mrs. Grant 
speaking from Charlottetown, and her news was that it 
was all a mistake — Robert wasn't killed at all; he 
had only been slightly wounded in the arm and was 
safe in the hospital out of harm's way for a time any- 
how. They hadn't learned yet how the mistake had 
happened but supposed there must have been another 
Robert Grant. 

" I hung up the telephone and flew to Rainbow Val- 
lew. I'm sure I did fly — I can't remember my feet 
ever touching the ground. I met Gertrude on her way 
home from school in the glade of spruces where we 
used to play, and I just gasped out the news to her. I 
ought to have had more sense, of course. A doctor's 
daughter to do such a thing ! But I was so crazy with 
joy and excitement that I never stopped to think. Ger- 
trude just dropped there among the golden young ferns 
as if she had been shot. The fright it gave me ought 
to make me sensible — in this respect at least — for the 



230 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

rest of my life. I thought I had killed her-r— I re- 
membered that her mother had died very suddenly 
from heart failure when quite a young woman. It 
seemed years to me before I discovered that her heart 
was still beating. A pretty time I had ! I never saw 
anybody faint before and I knew there was nobody up 
at the house to help, because everybody else had gone 
to the station to meet Di and Nan coming home from 
Redmond. But I knew — theoretically — how peo- 
ple in a faint should be treated, and now I know it 
practically. Luckily the brook was handy and after 
I had worked frantically over her for awhile Gertrude 
came back to life. She never said one word about my 
news and I didn't dare to refer to it .again. I helped 
her walk up through the maple grove and up to her 
room, and then she said, ' Rob — is — living,' as if the 
words were torn out of her, and flung herself on her 
bed and cried and cried and cried. I never saw any 
one cry so before. All the tears that she hadn't shed 
all that week came then. She cried most of last night, 
i think, but her face this morning looked as if she had 
seen a vision of some kind, and we were all so happy 
that we were almost afraid. 

*'Di and Nan are home for a couple of weeks. 
Then they go back to Red Cross work in the training 
camp at Kingsport. I envy them. Father says I'm 
doing just as good work here, with Jims and my Jun- 
ior Reds. But it lacks the romance theirs must have. 

" Kut has fallen. It was almost a relief ^hen it 
did fall, we had been dreading it so long. It crushed 
us flat for a day and then we picked up and put it be- 
hind us. Cousin Sophia was as gloomy as usual and 



NORMAN DOUGLAS SPEAKS OUT 231 

came over and groaned that the British were losing 
everywhere. 

" * They're good losers/ said Susan grimly. ' When 
they lose a thing they keep on looking till they find it 
again ! Anyhow, my king and coimtry need me now to 
cut potato sets for the back garden, so get you a knife 
and help me, Sophia Crawford. It will divert your 
thoughts and keep you from worrying over a campaign 
that you are not called upon to run.' 

" Susan is an old brick and the way she flattens out 
poor Cousin Sophia is beautiful to behold. 

" As for Verdun, the battle goes on and on, and we 
seesaw between hope and fear. But I know that 
strange dream of Miss Oliver's foretold the victory 
of France, * They shall not pass.' " 



CHAPTER XX 
Norman Douglas Speaks Out In Meeting 

WHERE are you wandering, Anne o' nunc ? " 
asked the doctor, who even yet, after twenty- 
four years of marriage, occasionally addressed his wife 
thus when nobody was about. Anne was sitting on 
the veranda steps, gazing absently over the wonderful 
bridal world of spring blossom. Beyond the white 
orchard was a copse of dark young firs and creamy 
wild cherries, where the robins were whistling madly ; 
for it was evening and the fire of early stars was burn- 
ing ovet- the maple grove. 



232 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Anne came back with a little sigh. 

" I was just taking relief from intolerable realities 
in a dream, Gilbert — a dream that all our children 
were home again — and all small again — playing in 
Rainbow Valley. It is always so silent now — but I 
was imagining I heard clear voices and gay, childish 
sounds coming up as I used to. I could hear Jem's 
whistle and Walter's yodel, and the twin's laughter, 
and for just a few blessed minutes I forgot about the 
guns on the western front, and had a little false, sweet 
happiness." 

The doctor did not answer. Sometimes his .work 
tricked him into forgetting for a few moments the 
western front, but not often. There was a good deal 
of grey now in his still thick curls that had not been 
there two years ago. Yet he smiled down into the 
starry eyes he loved — the eyes that had once been so 
full of laughter, and now seemed always full of un- 
shed tears. 

Susan wandered by with a hoe in her hand and her 
second best bonnet on her head. 

" I have just finished reading a piece in the Enter- 
prise which told of a couple being married in an aero- 
plane. Do you think it would be legal, Dr. dear ? " she 
inquired anxiously. 

I think so," said the doctor gravely. 
Well," said Susan dubiously, " it seems to me that 
a wedding is too solemn for anything so giddy as an' 
aeroplane. But nothing is the same as it used to be. 
Well, it is half an hour yet before prayer-meeting 
time, so I am going around to the kitchen garden to 
have a little evening hate with the weeds. But all the 
time I am strafing them I will be thinking about this 






NORMAN DOUGLAS SPEAKS OUT 233 

« 

new worry in the Trentino. I do not like this Aus- 
trian caper, Mrs. Dr. dear." 

''Nor I," said Mrs. Blythe ruefully. "All the 
forenoon I preserved rhubarb with my hands and 
waited for the war news with my soul. When it 
came I shrivelled. Well, I suppose I must go and get 
ready for the prayer-meeting, too." 

Every village has its own little unwritten history, 
handed down from lip to lip through the generations, 
of tragic, comic and dramatic events. They are told 
at weddings and festivals, and rehearsed around win- 
ter firesides. And in these oral annals of Glen St. 
Mary the tale of the union prayer-meeting held that 
night in the Methodist Church was destined to fill an 
imperishable place. 

The union prayer-meeting was Mr. Arnold's idea. 
The county battalion, which had been training all win- 
ter in Charlottetown, was to leave shortly for overseas. 
The Four Winds Harbour boys belonging to it from 
the Glen and over-harbour and Harbour Head and 
Upper Glen were all home on their last leave and Mr. 
Arnold thought, properly enough that it would be a 
fitting thing to hold a union prayer-meeting for them 
before they went away. Mr. Meredith having agreed, 
the meeting was announced to be held in the Methodist 
church. Glen prayer-meetings were not apt to be too 
well attended but on this particular evening the Meth- 
odist church was crowded. Everybody who could go 
was there. Even Miss Cornelia came — and it was the 
first time in her life that Miss Cornelia had ever set 
foot inside a Methodist church. It took no less than 
a world conflict to bring that about. 

" I used to hate Methodists," said Miss Cornelia 



234 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

calmly, when her husband expressed surprise over her 
going, " but I don't hate them now. There is no sense 
in hating Methodists when there is a Kaiser or a Hin- 
denburg in the world." 

So Miss Cornelia went. Norman Douglas and his 
wife went too. And Whiskers-on-the-moon strutted 
up the aisle to a front pew, as if he fully realized what 
a distinction he conferred upon the building. People 
were somewhat surprised that he should be there, 
since he usually avoided all assemblages connected 
in any way with the war. But Mr. Meredith had said 
that he hoped his session would be well represented, 
and Mr. Pryor had evidently taken the request to 
heart. He wore his best black suit and white tie, his 
thick, tight, iron-grey curls were lieatly arranged, and 
his broad, red, round face looked, as Susan most un- 
charitably thought, more ''sanctimonious" than ever. 

"The minute I saw that man coming into the 
church, looking like that, I felt that mischief was brew- 
ing, Mrs. Dr. dear," she said afterwards. " What 
form it would take I could not tell, but I knew from 
the face of him that he had come there for no good." 

The prayer-meeting opened conventionally and con- 
tinued quietly. Mr. Meredith spoke first with his usual 
eloquence and feeling. Mr. Arnold followed with an 
address which even Miss Cornelia had to confess was 
irreproachable in taste and subject-matter. 

And then Mr. Arnold asked Mr. Pryor to lead in 
prayer. 

Miss Cornelia had always averred that Mr. Arnold 
had no gumption. Miss Cornelia was not apt to err 
on the side of charity in her judgment of Methodist 
ministers, but in this case she did not greatly over- 



NORMAN DOUGLAS SPEAKS OUT 235 

shoot the mark. The Rev. Mr. Arnold certainly did 
not have much of that desirable, indefinable quality 
known as gumption, or he would never have asked 
Whiskers-on-the-moon to lead in prayer at a khaki 
prayer-meeting. He thought he was returning the 
compliment to Mr. Meredith, who, at the conclusion 
of his address, had asked a Methodist deacon to lead. 

Some people expected Mr. Pryor to refuse grumpily 
— and that would have made enough scandal. But 
Mr. Pryor bounded briskly to his feet, unctuously said, 
" Let us pray " and forthwith prayed. In a sonorous 
voice which penetrated to every corner of the crowded 
building Mr. Pryor poured forth a flood of fluent 
words, and was well on in his prayer before his dazed 
and horrified audience awakened to the fact that they 
were listening to a pacifist appeal of the rankest sort. 
Mr. Pryor had at least the courage of his convictions; 
or perhaps, as people afterwards said, he thought he 
was safe in a church and that it was an excellent 
chance to air certain opinions he dared not voice else- 
where, for fear of being mobbed. He prayed that the 
unholy war might cease — that the deluded armies 
being driven to slaughter on the western front might 
have their eyes opened to their iniquity and repent 
while yet there was time — that the poor young men 
present in khaki who had been hounded into a path 
of murder and militarism, should yet be rescued — 

Mr. Pryor had got this far without let or hindrance ; 
and so paralysed were his hearers, and so deeply im- 
bued with their born-and-bred conviction that no dis- 
turbance must ever be made in a church, no matter 
what the provocation, that it seemed likely that he 
would continue unchecked to the end. But one man 



236 RILLA OF ING] 



»;iii 



at least in that andicnce was not hampered by inher- 
ited or acquired reverence for the sacred edifice. Nor- 
man Douglas was, as Susan had often vowed crisply, 
nothing more or less than a '' pagan.'' But be was a 
rampantly patriotic pagan, and when the significance 
of what Mr. Pryor was saying fully dawned on him, 
Norman Douglas suddenly went Berserk. With a 
positive roar he bounded to his feet in his side pew, 
facing the audience, and shouted in tones of thunder, 

" Stop — stop — STOP that abominable prayer ! 
What an abominable prayer!" 

Every head in the church flew up. A boy in khaki 
at the back gave a faint cheer. Mr. Meredith raised a 
deprecating hand, but Norman was past caring for 
anything like that. Eluding Jiis wife's restraining 
grasp, he gave one mad spring over the front of the 
pew and caught the unfortunate Whiskers-on-the-moon 
by his coat collar. Mr. Pryor had not " stopped " 
when so bidden, but he stopped now, perforce, for 
Norman, his long red beard literally bristling with 
fury, was shaking him until his bones fairly rattled, 
and punctuating his shakes with a lurid assortment of 
abusive epithets. 

" You blatant beast 1 " — shake — " You malignant 
carrion '* — shake — " You pig-headed varmint ! *' — 
shake — "you putrid pup," — shake — "you pestilen- 
tial parasite " — shake — " you — Hunnish scum " — 
shake — "you indecent reptile, — you — you — " 

Norman choked for a moment. Everybody be- 
lieved that the next thing he would sjiy, church or no 
church, would be something that would have to be 
spelled with asterisks; but at that moment Norman 
encountered his wife*s eye and he fell back with a thud 



NORMAN DOUGLAS SPEAKS OUT 237 

on Holy Writ. " You whited sepulchre ! " he bel- 
lowed, with a final shake, and cast Whiskers-on-the- 
moon from him with a vigor which impelled that un- 
happy pacifist to the very verge of the choir entrance 
door. Mr. Pryor's once ruddy face was ashen. But 
he turned at bay. " Til have the law on you for this,*' 
he gasped. 

" Do — do," roared Norman, making another rush. 
But Mr. Pryor was gone. He had no desire to fall a 
second time into the hands of an avenging militarist. 
Norman turned to the platform for one graceless, 
triumphant moment. 

*' Don't look so flabbergasted, parsons," he boomed, 
*' You couldn't do it — nobody would expect it of the 
cloth — but somebody had to do it. You know you're 
glad I threw him out, — he couldn't be let go on yam^ 
mering and yodelling and yawping sedition and trea- 
son. Sedition and treason — somebody had to deal 
with it. I was born for this hour — I've had my in- 
nings in church at last. I can sit quiet for another 
sixty years now! Go ahead with your meeting, par- 
sons. I reckon you won't be troubled with any more 
pacifist prayers." 

But the spirit of devotion and reverence had fled. 
Both ministers realized it and realized that the' only 
thing to do was to close the meeting quietly and let 
the excited people go. Mr. Meredith addressed a few 
earnest words to the boys in khaki — which probably 
saved Mr. Pryor's windows from a second onslaught 
— and Mr. Arnold pronounced an incongruous bene- 
diction — at least, he felt it was incongruous, for he 
could not at once banish from his memory the sight 
of gigantic Norman Douglas shaking the fat, pompous 



238 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

little Whiskers-on-the-moon as a huge mastiff might 
shake an overgiow u puppy. And he knew that the 
same picture was in everybody's mind. Altc^ether 
the union prayer-meeting could hardly be called an 
unqualified success. But it was remembered in Qen 
St Mary when scores of orthodox and undisturbed 
assemblies were totally forgotten. 

" You will never, no, never, Mrs. Dr. dear, hear me 
call Norman Douglas a pagan again," said Susan when 
she reached home. ''If Ellen Douglas is not a proud 
woman this night she should be." 

" Norman Douglas did a wholly indefensible thing/' 
said the doctor. " Pryor should have been let severely 
alone until the meeting was over. Then later on, his 
own minister and session should deal with him« That 
would have been the proper procedure. Norman's 
performance was utterly improper and scandalous and 
outrageous ; but, by George," — the doctor threw back 
his head and chuckled, " by George, Anne-girl, it was 
satisfying.'* 



CHAPTER XXI 



"LbvE Affairs Are Horrible 



99 



** Ingleside, 

" June 20th, 191 6. 



"We have been so busy, and day after day has 
brought such exciting news, good and bad, that I 
haven't had time and composure to write in my diary 



/ 



"LOVE AFFAIRS ARE HORRIBLE" 239 

for weeks. I like to keep it up regularly, for father 
says a diary of the years of the war should be a very 
interesting thing to hand down to one's children. The 
trouble is, I like to write a few personal things in this 
blessed' old book that might not be exactly what I'd 
want my children to read. I feel that I shall be a far 
greater stickler for propriety in regard to them than 
I am for myself! 

** The first week in June was another dreadful one. 
The Austrians seemed just on the point of overrun- 
ning Italy: and then came the first awful news of the 
Battle of Jutland, which the Germans claimed as a 
great victory. I shall never forget that day. We just 
gave up completely. If the British navy had failed us 
what was there to trust to? *I feel as if I had re- 
ceived a staggering blow in the face from a trusted 
friend,' said Miss Oliver, and I think we all had just 
the same sensation. Susan was the only one who car- 
ried on. ' You need never tell me that the Kaiser has 
defeated the British Navy,' she said, with a con- 
temptuous sniff. ^ ' It is all a German lie and that you 
may tie to.' And when a couple of days later we 
found out that she was right and that it had been a 
British victory instead of a British defeat, we had to 
put up with a great many ' I told you so's/ but we 
endured them very comfortably. 

" It took Kitchener's death to finish Susan. For 
the first time I saw her down and out. We all felt 
the shock of it but Susan plumbed the deeps of despair. 
The news came at night by 'phone but Susan wouldn't 
believe it until she saw the Enterprise headline the next 
day. She did not cry or faint or go into hysterics; 
but she forgot to put salt in the soup and that is some- 



240 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

thing Susan never did in my recollection. Mother and 
Miss Oliver and I cried but Susan looked at us in 
stony sarcasm and said, 

" ' The Kaiser and his six sons are all alive and 
thriving. So the world is not left wholly desolate. 
Why cry, Mrs. Dr. dear?' Susan continued in this 
stony, hopeless condition for twenty-four hours, and 
then Cousin Sophia appeared and began to condole 
with her. 

" ' This is terrible news, ain't it, Susan ? We might 
as well prepare for the worst for it is bound to come. 
You said once — and well do I remember the words, 
Susan Baker — that you had complete confidence in 
God and Kitchener. Ah well, Susan Baker, there is 
only God left now.' 

** Whereat Cousin Sophia put her handkerchief to 
her eyes pathetically as if the world were indeed in 
terrible straits. 

" As for Susan, Cousin Sophia was the salvation of 
her. She came to life with a jerk. 

"'Sophia Crawford, hold your peace!' she said 
sternly. * You may be an idiot but you need not be an 
irreverent idiot. It is no more than decent to be weep- 
ing and wailing because the Almighty is the sole stay 
of the Allies no>y. As for Kitchener, his death is a 
great loss and I do not dispute it. But the outcome of 
this war does not depend on one man's life and now 
that the Russians are coming on again you will soon 
see a change for the better.' 

" Susan said this so energetically that she convinced 
herself and cheered up immediately. But Cousin 
Sophia shook her head. 

Albert's wife wants to call the baby after Brusil- 



tt < 



"LOVE AFFAIRS ARE HORRIBLE" 241 

off/ she said, 'but I told her to wait and see what 
becomes of him first. Them Russians has such a 
habit of petering out/ 

" The Russians are doing splendidly, however, and 
they have saved Italy. But even when the daily news 
of their sweeping advance comes we don't feel like 
running up the flag as we used to do. As Gertrude 
says, Verdun has slain all exultation. We would all 
feel more like rejoicing if the victories were on the 
Western front. ' When will the British strike ? ' Ger- 
trude sighed this morning. ' We have waited so long 
— so long.' 

" Our greatest local event in recent weeks was the 
route march the county battalion made through the 
county before it left for overseas. They marched 
from Charlottetown to Lowbridge, then round the 
Harbour Head and through the Upper Glen and so 
down to the St. Mary station. Everybody turned out 
to see them, except old Aunt Fannie Clow, who is 
bedridden and Mr. Pryor, who hadn't been seen out 
even in church since the night of the Union Prayer 
Meeting the previous week. 

" It was wonderful and heartbreaking to see that 
battalion marching past. There were young men and 
middle-aged men in it. There was Laurie MacAlHster 
from over-harbour who is only sixteen but swore he 
was eighteen, so that he could enlist; and there was 
Angus Mackenzie, from the Upper Glen who is fifty- 
five if he is a day and swore he was forty- four. 
Thefe were two South African veterans from Low- 
bridge, and the three eighteen-year-old Baxter triplets 
from Harbour Head. Everybody cheered as they 
went by, and they cheered Foster Booth, who is forty. 



242 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

walking side by side with his son Charley who is 
twenty. Charley's mother died when he was bom, and 
when Charley enlisted Foster said he'd never yet let 
Charley go anywhere he daren't go himself, and he 
didn't mean to begin with the Flanders trenches. At 
the station Dog Monday nearly went out of his head. 
He tore about and sent messages to Jem by them all. 
Mr. Meredith read an address and Reta Crawford re- 
cited ' The Piper.' The soldiers cheered her like mad 
and cried 'We'll follow — we'll follow — we won't 
break faith,' and I felt so proud to think that it was my 
dear brother who had written such a wonderful, heart- 
stirring thing. And then I looked at the khaki ranks 
and wondered if those tall fellows in uniform could be 
the boys I've laughed with and played with and danced 
with and teased all my life. Something seems to have 
touched them and set them apart. They have heard 
the Piper's call. 

" Fred Arnold was in the battalion and I felt dread- 
fully about him, for I realized that it was because of 
me that he was going away with such a sorrowful ex- 
pression. I couldn't help it but I felt as badly as if 
I could. 

" The last evening of his leave Fred came up to 
Ingleside and told me he loved me and asked me if I 
would promise to marry him some day, if he ever came 
back. He was desperately in earnest and I felt more 
wretched than I ever did in my life. I couldn't prom- 
ise him that — why, even if there was no question of 
Ken, I don't care for Fred that way and never could — 
but it seemed so cruel and heartless to send him away 
to the front without any hope or comfort. I cried like 
a baby; and yet — oh, I am afraid that there must be 



"LOVE AFFAIRS ARE HORRIBLE" 243 

something incurably frivolous about me, because, right 
in the middle of it all, with me crying and Fred look- 
ing so wild and tragic, the thought popped into my 
head that it would be an unendurable thing to see that 
nose across from me at the breakfast table every morn- 
ing of my life. There, that is one of the entries I 
wouldn't want my descendants to read in this journal. 
But it is the humiliating truth ; and perhaps it's just as 
well that thought did come or I might have been 
tricked by pity and remorse into giving him some rash 
assurance. If Fred's nose were as handsome as his 
eyes and mouth some such thing might have happened. 
And then what an unthinkable predicament I should 
have been in ! 

" When poor Fred became convinced that I couldn't 
promise him, he behaved beautifully — ^though that 
rather made things worse. If he had been nasty about 
it I wouldn't have felt so heart-broken and remorseful 
— though why I should feel remorseful I don't know, 
for I never encouraged Fred to think I cared a bit 
about him. Yet feel remorseful I did — and do. If 
Fred Arnold never comes back from overseas, this 
will haunt me all my life. 

" Then Fred said i f he couldn't take my love with 
him to the trenches at least he wanted to feel that he 
had my friendship, and would I kiss him just once in 
good-bye before he went — perhaps forever? 

" I don't know how I could ever have imagined that 
love affairs were delightful, interesting things. They 
are horrible. I couldn't even give poor heart-broken 
Fred one little kiss, because of my promise to Ken. 
It seemed brutal. I had to tell Fred that of course he 
would have my friendship, but that I couldn't kiss him 



244 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

because I had promised somebody else I wouldn't. 

" He said, ' Is it — is it — Ken Ford? ' 

" I nodded. It seemed dreadful to have to tell it — 
it was such a sacred little secret just between me and 
Ken. 

" When Fred went away I came up here to my room 
and cried so long and so bitterly that mother came up 
and insisted on knowing what was the matter. I told 
her. She listened to my tale with an expression that 
clearly said, ' Can it be possible that any one has been 
wanting to marry this baby?' But she was so nice 
and imderstanding and sympathetic, oh, just so race- 
of'Josephy — that I felt indescribably comforted 
Mothers are the dearest things. * 

" ' But oh, mother,' I sobbed, ' he wanted me to kiss 
him good-bye — and I couldn't — and that hurt me 
worse than all the rest.' 

" * Well, why didn't you kiss him ? ' asked mother 
coolly. " Considering the circumstances, I think you 
might have.' 

" * But I couldn't, mother — I promised Ken when 
he went away that I wouldn't kiss anybody else until 
he came back.' 

" This was another high explosive for poor mother. 
She exclaimed, with the queerest little catch in her 
voice, 

* Rilla, are you engaged to Kenneth Ford? ' 
' I — don't — know,' I sobbed. 
You — don't — know ? ' repeated mother. 
Then I had to tell her the whole story, too; and 
every time I tell it it seems sillier and sillier to imagine 
that Ken meant anything serious. I felt idiotic and 
ashamed by the time I got through. 



n 
ii 



LITTLE DOG MONDAY KNOWS 245 

" Mother sat a little while in silence. Then she 
came over, sat down beside me, and took me in her 
arms. 

" ' Don't cry, dear little Rilla-my-Rilla. You have 
nothing to reproach yourself with in regard to Fred; 
and if Leslie West's son asked you to keep your lips 
for him, I think you may consider yourself engaged to 
him.- But — oh, my baby — my last little baby — I 
have lost you — the war has made a woman of you 
too soon.' 

" I shall never be too much of a woman to find com- 
fort in mother's hugs. Nevertheless, when I saw Fred 
marching by two days later in the parade, my heart 
ached unbearably. 

" But I'm glad mother thinks I'm really engaged to 
Ken!" 

CHAPTER XXII 

Little Dog Monday Knows 

IT is two years tonight since the dance at the light, 
when Jack Elliott brought us news of the war. 
Do you remember. Miss Oliver?" 

Cousin Sophia answered for Miss Oliver. 

" Oh, indeed, Rilla, I remember that evening only 
too well, and you a-prancing down here to show oflf 
your party clothes. Didn't I warn you that we could 
not tell what was before us? Little did you think that 
night what was before you/' 

"Little did any of us think that," said Susan 
sharply, " not being gifted with the power of prophecy. 
It does not require any great foresight, Sophia Craw- 



246 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ford, to tell a body that she will have some trouble be- 
fore her life is over. I could do as much myself.^ 

" We all thought the war would be over in a few 
months then," said Rilla wistfully. "When I look 
back it seems so ridiculous that we ever could have 
supposed it." 

" And now, two years later, it is no nearer the end 
than it was then," said Miss Oliver gloomily. 

Susan clicked her knitting needles briskly. 

" Now, Miss Oliver, dear, you know that is not a 
reasonable remark. You know we are just two years 
nearer the end, whenever the end is appointed to be." 

" Albert read in a Montreal paper today that a war 
expert gives it as his opinion that it will last five 
years more," was Cousin Sophia's cheerful contribu- 
tion. 

" It can't," cried Rilla ; then she added with a sigh, 
*' Two years ago we would have said * It can't last two 
years.* But five more years of this! " 

*' If Roumania comes in, as I have strong hopes now 
of her doing, you will see the end in five months in- 
stead of five years," said Susan. 

" I've no faith in f urriners," sighed Cousin Sophia. 

" The French are foreigners," retorted Susan, " and 
look at Verdun. One of your precious war experts 
says * there is not the slightest doubt now that Verdun 
is saved.' Not the slightest doubt, Sophia Crawford. 
And think of all the Somme victories this blessed sum- 
mer. The Big Push is on and the Russians are still 
going well. Why, General Haig says that the German 
officers he has captured admit that they have lost the 



war." 



« 



You can't believe a word the Germans say," pro- 



LITTLE DOG MONDAY KNOWS 247 

tested Cousin Sophia. " There is no sense in believ- 
ing a thing just because you'd like to believe it, Susan 
Baker. The British have lost millions of men at the 
Somme and how far have they got? Look facts in 
the face, Susan Baker, look facts in the face." 

" They are wearing the Germans out and so long as 
that happens it does not matter whether it is done a few 
miles east or a few miles west. I am not," admitted 
Susan in tremendous humility " I am not a military 
expert, Sophia Crawford, but even / can see that, and 
so could you if you were not determined to take a 
gloomy view of everything. The Huns have not got 
all the cleverness in the world. Have you not heard the 
story of Alistair MacCallum's son Roderick, from the 
Upper Glen? He is a prisoner in Germany and his 
mother got a letter from him last week. He wrote 
that he was being very kindly treated and that all the 
prisoners had plenty of food and so on, till you would 
have supposed everything was lovely. But when he 
signed his name, right in between Roderick and Mac- 
Callum, he wrote two Gaelic words that meant *all 
lies,' and the German censor did not understand Gaelic 
and thought it was all part of Roddy's name. So he 
let it pass, never dreaming how he was diddled. Well, 
I am going to leave the war to Haig for the rest of the 
day and make a frosting for my chocolate cake. And 
when it is made I shall put it on the top shelf. The 
last one I made I left it on the lower shelf and little 
Kitchener sneaked in and clawed all the icing off and 
ate it. We had company for tea that night and when 
I went to get my cake what a sight did I behold ! " 

" Has that pore orphan's father never been heerd 
from yet ? " asked Cousin Sophia. 



248 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

^ " Yes, I had a letter from him in July/' said Rilla. 
" He said that when he got word of his wife's death 
and of my taking the baby, — Mr. Meredith wrote him, 
you know, — he wrote right away, but as he never got 
any answer he had begun to think his letter must have 
been lost" 

" It took him two years to begin to think it/' said 
Susan scornfully. " Some people think very slow. 
Jim Anderson has not got a scratch, for all he has been 
two years in the trenches. A fool for luck, as the old 
proverb says." 

" He wrote very nicely about Jims and said he'd like *^ 
to see him," said Rilla. " So I wrote and told him all 
about the wee man, and sent him snapshots. Jims 
will be two years old next week and he is a perfect 
duck." 

'* You didn't used to be very fond of babies/' said 
Cousin Sophia. 

" I'm not a bit fonder of babies in the abstract than 
ever I was," said Rilla, frankly. " But I do love Jims, 
s^nd I'm afraid I wasn't really half as glad as I should 
have been when Jim Anderson's letter proved that he 
was safe and sound." 

"You wasn't hoping the man would be killed!" 
cried Cousin Sophia in horrified accents. 

"No — no — no! I just hoped he would go on 
forgetting about Jims, Mrs. Crawford." 

" And then your pa would have the expense of rais- 
ing him," said Cousin Sophia reprovingly. " You 
yoimg creeturs are terrible thoughtless." 

Jims himself ran in at this juncture, so rosy and 
curly and kissable, that he extorted a qualified compli- 
ment even from Cousin Sophia. 



I 



LITTLE DOG MONDAY KNOWS 249 

"He's a reel healthy looking child nowj though 
mebbee his colour is a mite too high — sorter consump- 
tive looking, as you might say. I never thought you'd 
raise him when I saw him the day after you brung him 
home. I reely did not think it was in you and I told 
Albert's wife so when I got home. Albert's wife says, 
says she, 'There's more in Rilla Blythe than you'd 
think for, Aunt Sophia/ Them was her very words. 
' More in Rilla Blythe than you'd think for.' Albert's 
wife always had a good opinion of you." 

Cousin Sophia sighed, as if to imply that Albert's 
wife stood alone in this against the world. But 
Cousin Sophia really did not mean that. She was 
quite fond of Rilla in her own melancholy way; but 
young creeturs had to be kept down. If they were 
not kept down society would be demoralized. 

" Do you remember your walk home from the light 
two years ago tonight?" whispered Gertrude Oliver 
to Rilla, teasingly. 

" I should think I do," smiled Rilla ; and then her 
smile grew dreamy and absent; she was remembering 
something else — that hour with Kenneth on the sand- 
shore. Where would Ken be tonight? And Jem and 
Jerry and Walter and all the other boys who had 
danced and moonlighted on the old Four Winds Point 
that evening of mirth and laughter — their last joyous 
unclouded evening. In the filthy trenches of the 
Somme front, with the roar of the guns and the groans 
of stricken men for the music of Ned Burr's violin, 
and the flash of star shells for the silver sparkles on 
the old blue gulf. Two of them were sleeping under 
the Flanders poppies — Alec Burr from the Upper 
Glen, and Clark Manley of Lowbridge. Others were 



250 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

wounded in the hospitals. But so far nothing had 
touched the manse and the Ingleside boys. They 
seemed to bear charmed lives. Yet the suspense never 
grew any easier to bear as the weeks and months of 
war went by. 

" It isn't as if it were some sort of fever to which 
you might conclude they were immune when they 
hadn't taken it for two years," sighed Rilla. ** The 
danger is just as great and just as real as it was the 
first day they went into the trenches. I know this, and 
it tortures me every day. And yet I can't help hoping 
that since they've come this far unhurt they'll come 
through. Oh, Miss Oliver, what would it be like not 
to wake up in the morning feeling afraid of the news 
the day would bring? I can't picture such a state of 
things somehow. And two years ago this morning I 
woke wondering what delightful gift the new day 
would give me. These are the two years I thought 
would be filled with fun." 

" Would you exchange them — now — for two 
years filled with fun ? " 

" No," said Rilla slowly, " I wouldn't. It's strange 

— isn't it? — They have been two terrible years — 
and yet I have a queer feeling of thankfulness for them 

— as if they had brought me something very precious, 
with all their pain. I wouldn't want to go back and be 
the girl I was two years ago, not even if I could. Not 
that I think I've made any wonderful progress — but 
I'm not quite the selfish, frivolous little doll I was 
then. I suppose I had a soul then. Miss Oliver — but 
I didn't know it. I know it now — and that is worth 
a great deal — worth all the suffering of the past two 
years. And still" — Rilla gave a little apologetic 



LITTLE DOG MONDAY KNOWS 251 

laugh, " I don't want to suffer any more — not even 
for the sake of more soul growth. At the end of two 
more years I might look back and be thankful for the 
development they had brought me, too; but I don't 
want it now." 

" We never do," said Miss Oliver. " That is why 
we are not left to choose our own means and measure 
of development, I suppose. No matter how much we 
value what our lessons have brought us we don't want 
to go on with the bitter schooling. Well, let us hope 
for the best, as Susan says; things are really going 
well now and if Roumania lines up, the end may come 
with a suddenness that will surprise us all." 

Roumania did come in — and Susan remarked ap- 
provingly that its king and queen were the finest look- 
ing royal couple she had seen pictures of. So the sum- 
mer passed away* Early in September word came 
that the Canadians had been shifted to the Somme 
front and anxiety grew tenser and deeper. For the 
first time Mrs. Blythe's spirit failed her a little, and as 
the days of suspense wore on the doctor began to look 
gravely at her, and veto this or that special effort in 
Red Cross work. 

" Oh, let me work — let me work, Gilbert," she en- 
treated feverishly. " While Fm working I don't think 
so much. If I'm idle I imagine everything — rest is 
only torture for me. My two boys are on the fright- 
ful Somme front — and Shirley pores day and night 
over aviation literature and says nothing. But I see 
the purpose growing in his eyes. No, I cannot rest — 
don't ask it of me, Gilbert." 

But the doctor was inexorable. 
I can't let you kill yourself, Anne-girl," he said. 



it 



252 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" When the boys come back I want a mother here to 
welcome them. Why, you're getting transparent. It 
won't do — ask Susan there if it will do." 

" Oh, if Susan and you are both banded together 
against me! " said Anne helplessly. 

One day the glorious news came that the Canadians 
had taken Courcelette and Martenpuich, with many 
prisoners and guns. Susan ran up the flag and said it 
was plain to be seen that Haig knew what soldiers to 
pick for a hard job. The others dared not feel exult- 
ant. Who knew what price had been paid ? 

Rilla woke that morning when the dawn was begin- 
ning to break and went to her window to look out, her 
thick creamy eyelids heavy with sleep. Just at dawn 
the world looks as it never looks at any other time. 
The air was cold with dew and the orchard and grove 
and Rainbow Valley were full of mystery and won- 
der. Over the eastern hill were golden deeps and sil- 
very-pink shadows. There was no wind, and Rilla 
heard distinctly a dog howling in a melancholy way 
down in the direction of the station. Was it Dog 
Monday? And if it were, why was he howling like 
that ? Rilla shivered ; the sound had something boding 
and grievous in it. She remembered that Miss Oliver 
said once, when they were coming home in the dark- 
ness and heard a dog howl, " When a dog cries like that 
the Angel of Death is passing." Rilla listened with a 
curdling fear at her heart. It was Dog Monday — 
she felt sure of it. Whose dirge was he howling — 
to whose spirit was he sending that anguished greeting 
and farewell ? 

Rilla went back to bed but she could not sleep. All 
day she watched and waited in a dread of which she 



LITTLE DOG MONDAY KNOWS 253 

did not speak to anyone. She went down to see Dog 
Monday and the station master said, 

" That dog of yours howled from midnight to sun- 
rise something weird. I dunno what got into him. 
He kept the wife awake and I got up once and went 
out and hollered at him but he paid no 'tention to me. 
He was sitting all alone in the moonlight out there at 
the end of the platform, and every few minutes the 
poor lonely little beggar 'd lift his nose and howl as if 
his heart was breaking. He never did it afore — al- 
ways slept in his kennel real quiet and canny from 
train to train. But he sure had something on his mind 
last night." 

Dog Monday was lying in his kennel. He wagged 
his tail and licked Rilla's hand. But he would not 
touch the food she brought for him. 

" I'm afraid he's sick," she said anxiously. She 
hated to go away and leave him. But no bad news 
came that day — nor the next — nor the next. Rilla's 
fear lifted. Dog Monday howled no more and re- 
sumed his routine of train meeting and watching. 
When five days had passed the Ingleside people began 
to feel that they might be cheerful again. Rilla dashed 
about the kitchen helping Susan with the breakfast 
and singing so sweetly and clearly that Cousin Sophia 
across the road heard her and croaked out to Mrs. 
Albert. 

" ' Sing before eating, cry before sleeping,' I've al- 
ways heard." 

But Rilla Blythe shed no tears before the nightfall. 
When her father, his face grey and drawn and old, 
came to her that afternoon and told her that Walter 
had been killed in action at Courcelette she crumpled 



254 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

up in a pitiful little heap of merciful unconsciousness 
in his arms. Nor did she waken to her pain for many 
hours. 



CHAPTER XXIII 
"And So, Goodnight*' 

THE fierce flame of agony had burned itself out 
and the grey dust of its ashes was over all the 
world. Rilla's younger life recovered physically 
sooner than her mother. For weeks Mrs. Blythe lay 
ill from grief and shock. Rilla found it was possible 
to go on with existence, since existence had still to be 
reckoned with. There was work to be done, for Su- 
san could not do all. For her mother's sake she had to 
put on calmness and endurance as a garment in the 
day ; but night after night she lay in her bed, weeping 
the bitter rebellious tears of youth until at last tears 
were all wept out and the little patient ache that was to 
be in her heart until she died took their place. 

She clung to Miss Oliver, who knew what to say and 
what not to say. So few people did. Kind, well- 
meaning callers and comforters gave Rilla some ter- 
rible moments. 

" You'll get over it in time," Mrs. William Reese 
said, cheerfully. Mrs. Reese had three stalwart sons, 
not one of whom had gone to the front. 

** It's such a blessing it was Walter who was taken 
and not Jem," said Miss Sarah Clow. " Walter was a 



"AND SO, GOODNIGHT" 255 

member of the church, and Jem wasn't. I've told Mr. 
Meredith many a time that he should have spoken seri- 
ously to Jem about it before he went away." 

" Pore, pore, Walter," sighed Mrs. Reese. 

" Do not you come here calling him poor Walter/' 
said Susan indignantly, appearing in the kitchen door, 
much to the relief of Rilla, who felt that she could en- 
dure no more just then. " He was not poor. He was 
richer than any of you. It is you who stay at home 
and will not let your sons go who are poor — poor and 
naked and mean and small — pisen poor, and so are 
your sons, with all their prosperous farms and fat cat- 
tle and their souls no bigger than a flea's — if as big." 

" I came here to comfort the afflicted and not to be 
insulted," said Mrs. Reese, taking her departure, un- 
regretted by anyone. Then the fire went out of Susan 
and she retreated to her kitchen, laid her faithful old 
head on the table and wept bitterly for a time. Then 
she went to work and ironed Jims' little rompers. 
Rilla scolded her gently for it when she herself came 
in to do it. 

" I am not going to have you kill yourself working 
for any war baby," Susan said obstinately. 

" Oh, I wish I could just keep on working all the 
time, Susan," cried poor Rilla. " And I wish I didn't 
have to go to sleep. It is hideous to go to sleep and 
forget it for a little while, and wake up and have it all 
rush over me anew the next morning. Do people ever 
get used to things like this, Susan? And oh, Susan, I 
can't get away from what Mrs. Reese said. Did Wal- 
ter suffer much — he was always so sensitive to pain. 
Oh, Susan, if I knew that he didn't, I think T could 
gather up a little courage and strength." 



256 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

This merciful knowledge was given to Rilla. A 
letter came from Walter's commanding officer, telling 
them that he had been killed instantly by a bullet during 
a charge at Courcelette. The same day there was a 
letter for Rilla from Walter himself. 

Rilla carried it unopened to Rainbow Valley and 
read it there, in the spot where she had had her last 
talk with him. It is a strange thing to read a letter 
after the writer is dead — a bitter-sweet thing, in which 
pain and comfort are strangely mingled. For the first 
time since the blow had fallen Rilla felt — a different 
thing from tremulous hope and faith — that Walter, 
of the glorious gift and the splendid ideals, still lived, 
with just the same gift and just the same ideals. That 
could not be destroyed — these could suffer no eclipse. 
The personality that had expressed itself in that last 
letter, written on the eve of Courcelette, could not be 
snuffed out by a German bullet. It must carry on, 
though the earthly link with things of earth were 
broken. 

" WeVe going over the top tomorrow, Rilla-my- 
Rilla," wrote Walter. " I wrote mother and Di yes- 
terday, but somehow I feel as if I mtist write you to- 
night. I hadn't intended to do any writing tonight — 
but I've got to. Do you remember old Mrs. Tom 
Crawford over-harbour, who was always saying that 
it was Maid on her' to do such and such a thing? 
Well, that is just how I feel. It's * laid on me ' to 
write you tonight — you, sister and chum of mine. 
There are some things I want to say before — well, be- 
fore tomorrow. 

" You and Ingleside seem strangely near me tonight. 
It's the first time I've felt this since I came. Always 



"AND SO, GOODNIGHT" 257 

home has seemed so far away,^ — so hopelessly far 
away from this hideous welter of filth and blood. But 
tonight it is quite close to me — it seems to me I can al- 
most see you — hear you speak. And I can see the 
moonlight shining white and still on the old hills of 
home. It has seemed to me ever since I came here 
that it was impossible that there could be calm gentle 
nights and unshattered moonlight anywhere in the 
world. But tonight somehow, all the beautiful things 
I have always loved seem to have become possible 
again — and this is good, and makes me feel a deep, 
certain, exquisite happiness. It must be autumn at 
home now — the harbour is a-dream and the old Glen 
hills blue with haze, and Rainbow Valley a haunt of 
delight with wild asters blowing all over it, — our old 
" farewell-summers." I always liked that name so 
much better than * aster ' — it was a poem in itself. 

" Rilla, you know Fve always had premonitions. 
You remember the Pied Piper — but no, of course you 
wouldn't — you were too young. One evening long 
ago when Nan and Di and Jem and the Merediths and 
I were together in Rainbow Valley I had a queer vision 
or presentiment — whatever you like to call it. Rilla, 
I saw the Piper coming down the Valley with a 
shadowy host behind him. The others thought I was 
only pretending — but I saw him for just one moment. 
And, Rilla, last night I saw him again. I was doing 
sentry-go and I saw him marching across No-man's- 
land from our trenches to the German trenches — the 
same tall shadowy form, piping weirdly,— and behind 
him followed boys in khaki. Rilla, I tell you I saw 
him — it was no fancy — no illusion. I heard his 
music, and then — he was gone. But I had seen him 



258 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

— and I knew what it meant — I knew that I was 
among those who followed him. 

" Rilla, the Piper will pipe me ' west ' tomorrow. I 
feel sure of this. And Rilla, I'm not afraid. When 
you hear the news, remember that. I've won my own 
freedom here — freedom from all fear. I shall nevei; 
be afraid of anything again — not of deatli — nor of 
life, if, after all, I am to go on living. And life, I 
think, would be the harder of the two to face, — for it 
could never be beautiful for me again. There would 
always be such horrible things to remember — things 
that wotdd make life ugly and painful always for me. 
I could never forget them. But whether it's life or 
death, I'm not afraid, Rilla-my-Rilla, and I am not 
sorry that I came. I'm satisfied. I'll never write the 
poems I once dreamed of writing — but I've helped to 
make Canada safe for the poets of the future — for 
the workers of the future — ay, and the dreamers, too 

— for if no man dreams, there will be nothing for the 
workers to fulfil, — the future, not of Canada only 
but of the world — when the ' red rain' of Langemarck 
and Verdun shall have brought forth a golden harvest 

— not in a year or two, as some foolishly think, but a 
generation later, when the seed sown now shall have 
had time to germinate and grow. Yes, I'm glad I 
came, Rilla. It isn't only the fate of the little sea-bom 
island I love that is in the balance — nor of Canada — 
nor of England. It's the fate of mankind. That is 
what we're fighting for. And we shall win — never 
for a moment doubt that, Rilla. For it isn't oniy the 
living who are fighting — the dead are fighting too. 
Such an army cannot be defeated. 



"AND SO, GOODNIGHT" 259 

" Is there laughter in your face yet, Rilla ? I hope 
so. The world will need laughter and courage more 
than ever in the years that will come next I don't 
want to preach — this isn't any time for it But I jusi 
want to say something that may help you over the 
worst when you hear that I've *gone west' I've a 
premonition about you, Rilla, as well as about myself. 
I think Ken will go back to you — and that there are 
long years of happiness for you by-and-by. And you 
will tell your children of the Idea we fought and died 
for — teach them it must be lived for as well as died 
for, else the price paid for it will have been given for 
nought. This will be part of your work, Rilla. And 
if you — all you girls back in the homeland — do it, 
then we who don't come back will know that you have 
not * broken faith ' with us. 

"I meant to write Una tonight, too, but I won't 
have time now. Read this letter to her and tell her 
it's really meant for you both — you two dear, fine 
loyal girls. Tomorrow, when we go over the top, I'll 
think of you both — of your laughter, Rilla-my-Rilla, 
and the steadfastness in Una's blue eyes — somehow 
I see those eyes very plainly tonight, too. Yes, you'll 
both keep faith — I'm sure of that — you and Una. 
And so — goodnight. We go over the top at dawn." 

Rilla read her letter over many times. There was 
a new light on her pale young face when she finally 
stood up, amid the asters Walter had loved, with the 
sunshine of autumn around her. For the moment at 
least, she was lifted above pain and loneliness. 

" I will keep faith, Walter," she said steadily. " I 
will work — and teach — and learn — and laugh, yes, 



26o RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

I will even laugh — through all my years, because of 
you and because of what you gave when you followed 
the call." 

Rilla meant to keep Walter's letter as a sacred treas- 
ure. But, seeing the look on Una Meredith's face 
when Una had read it and held it back to her, she 
thought of something. Could she do it? Oh, no, 
she could not give up Walter's letter — his last letter. 
Surely it was not selfishness to keep it. A copy would 
be such a soulless thing. But Una — Una had so little 
— and her eyes were the eyes of a woman stricken to 
the heart, who yet must not cry out or ask for sym- 
pathy. 

" Una, would you like to have this letter — to 
keep ? " she asked slowly. 

" Yes — if you can give it to me," Una said dully. 

" Then — you may have it," said Rilla hurriedly. 

" Thank you," said Una. It was all she said, but 
there was something in her voice which repaid Rilla for 
her bit of sacrifice. 

Una took the letter and when Rilla had gone she 
pressed it against her lonely lips. Una knew that love 
would never come into her life now — it was buried for 
ever under the blood-stained soil " Somewhere in 
France." No one but herself — and perhaps Rilla — 
knew it — would ever know it. She had no right in 
the eyes of her world to grieve. She must hide and 
bear her long pain as best she could — alone. But 
she, too, would keep faith. 



MARY IS JUST IN TIME 261 



CHAPTER XXIV 
Mary is Just in Time 

THE autumn of 19 16 was a bitter season for In- 
gleside. Mrs. Blythe's return to health was 
slow, and sorrow and loneliness were in all hearts. 
Everyone tried to hide it from the others and " carry 
on " cheerfully. Rilla laughed a good deal. Nobody 
at Ingleside was deceived by her laughter ; it came from 
her lips only, never from her heart. But outsiders 
said some people got over trouble very easily, and 
Irene Howard remarked that she was surprised to find 
how shallow Rilla Blythe really was. ** Why, after all 
her pose of being so devoted to Walter, she doesn't 
seem to mind his death at all. Nobody has even seen 
her shed a tear or heard her mention his name. She 
has evidently quite forgotten him. Poor fellow, — 
you'd really think his family would feel it more. I 
spoke of him to Rilla at the last Junior Red meeting — 
of how fine and brave and splendid he was — and I 
said life could never be just the same to me again, 
now that Walter had gone — we were such friends, 
you know — why / was the very first person he told 
about having enlisted — and Rilla answered, as coolly 
and indifferently as if she were speaking of an entire 
stranger, * He was just one of many fine and splendid 
boys who have given everything for their country.' 
Well, I wish / could take things as calmly, — but I'm 
not made like that. I'm so sensitive — things hurt 
me terribly — I really never get over them. I asked 
Rilla right out why she didn't put on mourning for 



262 RILJLA Of IXGUSIDE 

WaicT. Siie iacd htr wacsSaet Scn'z w^a: x. 

potintH Betty McskL 



^ WUtt htconxs her bttttr das ^aiiliilug 
Irei?e ^ignifickmW. ** Acd we all kaosr buiek caxat 
^h her com^^Iexkm at alL Bat of coorse Fbe iboc ^^ 
ii)|; thai fs the reason she doesn't wear it. Oiff . xs 
ivmxvj. If liijr brother had died Fd hare sooe bis} 
deep mcmrmng. I wooldn't have had the Aairt fior 
anything dse. I confess I'm dis^pointed is S3b 
Blythe/' 

''/ am not, then,'' cried Betty Mead, kgralhr, "I 
think Rilla is just a wonderful girL A few years a^ 
I admit I did think she was rather too vain and g^s^ 
some, but now she is nothing of the sorL I dcn't 
think there is a girl in the Glen who is so unselfish and 
plucky as Rilla, or who has 'done her Int' as dior- 
oughly and patiently. Our Junior Red Cross would 
have gone on the rocks a dozen times if it hadn't been 
for her tact and perseverance and enthusiasm — you 
know that perfectly well, Irene." 

** Why, / am not running Rilla down," said Irene, 
opening her eyes widely. " It was only her lack of 
feeling I was criticizing. I suppose she can't help it 
Of course, she's a bom manager — everyone knows 
that. She's very fond of managing, too — and peo- 
ple like that are very necessary I admit. So don't 
look at me as if I'd said something perfectly dreadful, 
Betty, please. I'm quite willing to agree that Rilla 
Blythe is the embodiment of all the virtues, if that 
will please you. And no doubt it is a virtue to be quite 
unmoved by things that would crush most people." 



MARY IS JUST IN TIME 263 

Some of Irene's remarks were reported to Rilla ; but 
they did not hurt her as they would once have done. 
They didn't matter, that was all. Life was too big to 
leave room for pettiness. She had a pact to keep and 
a work to do; and through the long hard days and 
weeks of that disastrous autumn she was faithful to 
her task. The war news was consistently bad, for 
Germany marched from victory to victory over poor 
Roumania. " Foreigners — foreigners," Susan mut- 
tered dubiously. " Russians or Roumanians or what- 
ever they may be, they are foreigners and you cannot 
tie to them. But after Verdun I shall not give up 
hope. And can you tell me, Mrs. Dr. dear, if the 
Dobruja is a river or a mountain range, or a condition 
of the atmosphere? " 

The Presidential election in the United States came 
off in November, and Susan was red-hot over that — 
and quite apologetic for her excitement. 

" I never thought I would live to see the day when 
I would be interested in a Yankee election, Mrs. Dr. 
dear. It only goes to show we can never know what 
we will come to in this world and therefore we should 
not be proud." 

Susan stayed up late the evening of the seventh, 
ostensibly to finish a pair of socks. But she 'phoned 
down to Carter Flagg's store at intervals, and when the 
first report came through that Hughes had been elected 
she stalked solemnly upstairs to Mrs. Blythe's room 
and announced it in a thrilling whisper from the foot 
of the bed. 

" I thought if you were not asleep you would be in- 
terested in knowing it. I believe it is for the best. 
Perhaps he will just fall to writing notes, too, Mrs. Dr. 



264 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

dear, but I hope for better things. I never was very 
partial to whiskers but one cannot have everything." 

When news came in the morning that after all Wil- 
son was re-elected, Susan tacked to catch another 
breeze of optimism. 

" Well, better a fool you know than a fool you do 
not know, as the old proverb has it," she remarked 
cheerfully. " Not that I hold Woodrow to be a fool 
by any means, though by times you would not think he ! 
had the sense he was bom with. But he is a good let- 
ter writer at least, and we do not know if the Hughes 
man is even that. All things being considered I com- 
mend the Yankees. They have shown good sense and 
I do not mind admitting it. Cousin Sophia wanted 
them to elect Roosevelt and is much disgruntled be- 
cause they would not give him a chance. I had a 
hankering for him myself but we must believe that 
Providence overrules these matters and be satisfied, — 
though what the Almighty means in this affair of Rou- 
mania I cannot fathom — saying it with all reverence." 

Susan fathomed it — or thought she did — when 
the Asquith ministry went down and Lloyd George be- 
came Premier. 

" Mrs. Dr. dear, Lloyd George is at the helm at last. 
I have been praying for this for many a day. Now 
we shall soon see a blessed change. It took the Rou- 
manian disaster to bring it about, no less, and that is 
the meaning of it, though I could not see it before. 
There will be no more shilly-shallying. I consider that 
the war is as good as won, and that I shall tie to, 
whether Bucharest falls or not.'* 

Bucharest did fall — and Germany proposed peace 
negotiations. Whereat Susan scornfully turned a deaf 



MARY IS JUST IN TIME 265 

ear and absolutely refused to listen to such proposals. 
When President Wilson sent his famous December 
peace note Susan waxed violently sarcastic. 

" Woodrow Wilson is going to make peace, I under- 
stand. First Henry Ford had a try at it and now 
comes Wilson. But peace is not made with ink, Wood- 
row, and that you may tie to,'' said Susan, apostrophiz- 
ing the unlucky President out of the kitchen window 
nearest the United States. " Lloyd George's speech 
will tell the Kaiser what is what, and you may keep 
your peace screeds at home and save postage." 

" What a pity President Wilson can't hear you, 
Susan," said Rilla slyly. 

" Indeed, Rilla dear, it is a pity that he has no one 
near him to give him good advice, as it is clear he has 
not, in all those Democrats and Republicans,*' retorted 
Susan. '^ I do not know the difference between them, 
for the politics of the Yankees is a puzzle I cannot 
solve, study it as I may. But as far as seeing through 
a grindstone goes, I am afraid — " Susan shook her 
head dubiously, *' that they are all tarred with the 
same brush." 

** I am thankful Christmas is over," Rilla wrote in 
her diary during the last week of a stormy December. 
" We had dreaded it so — the first Christmas since 
Courcelette. But we had all the Merediths down for 
dinner and nobody tried to be gay or cheerful. We 
were all just quiet and friendly, and thai helped. 
Then, too, I was so thankful that Jims had got better 
— so thankful that I almost felt glad — almost but not 
quite. I wonder if I shall ever feel really glad over 
anything again. It seems as if gladness were killed 
in me — shot down by the same bullet that pierced 



266 RILLA OF IN 



>:iii 



Walter's heart. Pttbaps somt dar a new kmd of 
gladncM will be bom in nnr soul — but tbe old kind 
win never live again. 

^ Winter set in awfollj carlj thb year. Ten days 
before Christmas we had a big snowstorm — at least 
we thought it big at the time. As it hap pm ed , it was 
only a prelude to the real performance. It was fine 
the next day and Ingkside and Rainbow VaDcy were 
wonderful, with the trees all covered with snow, and 
big drifts everywhere, carved into the most femtastic 
shapes by the chisel of the northeast wind. Father and 
mother went up to Avonlea. Father tfaoogfat the 
change would do mother good and they wanted to see 
poor Aunt Diana, whose son Jade had been seriously 
wounded a short time before. They left Susan and me 
to keep house and father expected to be back the next 
day. But he never got back for a week. That night 
it began to storm again, and it stormed unbrokenly for 
four days. It was the worst and longest storm that 
Prince Edward Island has known for years. Every- 
thing was disorganized — the roads were completely 
choked up, the trains blockaded, and the telephone wires 
put entirely out of commission. 

'' And then Jims took ill. 

*' He had a little cold when father and mother went 
away and he kept getting worse for a couple of days, 
but it didn't occur to me that there was danger of any- 
thing serious. I never even took his temperature and 
I can*t forgive myself, because it was sheer careless- 
ness. The truth is I had slumped just then. Mother 
was away, so I let myself go. All at once I was tired 
of keeping up and pretending to be brave and cheerful, 
and I just gave up for a few days and spent most of 



MARY IS JUST IN TIME 267 

the time lying on my face on my bed, crying. I neg- 
lected Jims — that is the hateful truth — I was cow- 
ardly and false to what I promised Walter — and if 
Jims had died I could never have forgiven myself. 

" Then, the third night after father and mother went 
away, Jims suddenly got worse — oh, so much worse 

— all at once. Susan and I were all alone. Gertrude 
had been at Lowbridge when the storm began and had 
never got back. At first we were not much alarmed. 
Jims has had several bouts of croup and Susan and 
Morgan and I have always brought him through with- 
out much trouble. But it wasn't very long before we 
were dreadfully alarmed. 

** * I never saw croup like this before,' said Susan. 

" As for me, I knew, when it was too late, what kind 
of croup it was. I knew it was not the ordinary croup 
— * false croup ' as doctors call it, — but the * true * 
croup — and I knew that it was a deadly and danger- 
ous thing. And father was away and there was no 
doctor nearer than Lowbridge — and we could not 
*phone — and neither horse nor man could get through 
the drifts that night. 

*' Gallant little Jims put up a good fight for his life, 

— Susan and I tried every remedy we could think of or 
find in father's books, but he continued to grow worse. 
It was heart-rending to see and hear him. He gasped 
so horribly for breath — the poor little soul — and his 
face turned a dreadful bluish colour and had such an 
agonized expression, and he kept struggling with his 
little hands, — as if he were appealing to us to help him 
somehow. I found myself thinking that the boys who 
had been gassed at the front must have looked like that, 
and the thought haunted me amid all my dread and 



268 RILLA OF 

misery over Jims. And all the time the fatal mem- 
brane in his wee throat grew and thickened and he 
couldn't get it up. 

" Oh, I was just wild! I never realized how dear 
Jims was to me until that moment. And I felt 30 ut- 
terly helpless. It was just as if we were fighting a re- 
lentless foe without any real weapons, — just like those 
poor Russian soldiers who had only their bare hands to 
oppose to German machine guns. 

" And then Susan gave up. 

"'We cannot save him — oh, if your father was 
here — look at him, the poor little fellow! I know 
not what to do.' 

" I looked at Jims and I thought he was dying. 
Susan was holding him up in his crib to give him a 
better chance for breath, but it didn't seem as if he 
could breathe at alL My little war baby, with his dear 
ways and sweet roguish face, was choking to death be- 
fore my very eyes, and I couldn't help him I threw 
down the hot poultice I had ready in despair. Of 
what use was it? Jims was dying — and it was my 
fault — I hadn't been careful enough! 

" Just then — at eleven o'clock at night — the door 
bell rang. Such a ring — it pealed all over the house 
above the roar of the storm. Susan couldn't go — 
she dared not lay Jims down, — so I rushed downstairs. 
In the hall I paused just a minute — I was suddenly 
overcome by an absurd dread. I thought of a weird 
story Gertrude had told me once. An aunt of hers was 
alone in a house one night with her sick husband. She 
heard a knock at the door. And when she went and 
opened it — there was nothing there — nothing that 
could be seen, at least. But when she opened the door 



MARY IS JUST IN TIME 269 

a deadly cold wind blew in and seemed to sweep past 
her right up the stairs, although it was a calm, warm 
summer night outside. Immediately she heard a cry 
— she ran .upstairs — and her husband was dead. 
And she always believed, so Gertrude said, that when 
she opened that door she let Death in, 

" It was ridiculous of me to feel so frightened. 
But I was distracted and worn out — and I simply felt 
for a moment that I dared not open the door — that 
death was waiting outside. Then I remembered that I 
had no time to waste — must not be so foolish — I 
sprang forward and opened the door. 

" Certainly a cold wind did blow in and filled the 
hall with a whirl of snow. But there on the threshold 
stood a form of flesh and blood — Mary Vance, coated 
from head to foot with snow — and she brought Life, 
not Death, with her, though I didn't know that then. 
I just stared at her. 

" ' I haven't been turned out,' grinned Mary, as she 
stepped in and shut the door. ' I came up to Carter 
Flagg's two days ago and I've been stormed-stayed 
there ever since. But old Abbie Flagg got on my 
nerves at last, and tonight I just made up my mind to 
come up here. I thought I could wade this far but I 
can tell you it was as much as a bargain. Once I 
thought I was stuck for keeps. Ain't it an awful 
night?' 

" I came to myself and knew I must hurry upstairs. 
I explained as quickly as I could to Mary, and left her 
trying to brush the snow off. Upstairs I found that 
Jims was over that paroxysm, but almost as soon as I 
got back to the room he was in the grip of another. I 
hung over him and wrung my hands. I was com- 



270 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

pletcly * no good ' — I couldn't do anything but moan 
and cry — oh, how ashamed I am when I think of it; 
and yet what could I do — we had tried everything we 
knew — and then all at once I heard Mary Vance say- 
ing loudly behind me, 

"* Why, that child is dying!' 

** I whirled around. Didn't I know he was dying — 
my little Jims ! I could have thrown Mary Vance out 
of the door or the window — anywhere — at that 
moment. There she stood, cool and composed, look- 
ing down at my baby, with those weird white eyes of 
hers, as she might look at a choking kitten. I had al- 
ways disliked Mary Vance — and just then I hated 
her. 

" * We have tried everything,' said poor Susan dully. 
' It is not ordinary croup.' 

" * No, it's the dipthery croup,' said Mary briskly, 
snatching up an apron. * And there's mighty little time 
to lose — but / know what to do. When I lived over- 
harbour with Mrs. Wiley years ago Will Crawford's 
kid died of dipthery croup, in spite of two doctors. 
And when old Aunt Christina MacAllister heard of it. 
— she was the one brought me round when I died of 
pneumonia you know — she was a wonder — no doc- 
tor was a patch on her — they don't hatch her breed 
of cats nowadays, let me tell you — she said she could 
have saved him with her grandmother's remedy if 
she'd been there. She told Mrs. Wiley what it was 
and I've never forgot it. I've the greatest memory 
ever — a thing just lies in the back of my head till 
the time comes to use it. Got any sulphur in the house, 
Susan ? ' 



MARY IS JUST IN TIME 271 

"Yes, we had sulphur. Susan went down with 
Mary to get it and I held Jims. I hadn't any hope — 
not the least. Mary Vance might brag as she liked — 
she was always bragging — but I didn't believe any 
grandmother's remedy could save Jims now. Pres- 
ently Mary came back. She had tied a piece of thick 
flannel over her mouth and nqse and she carried 
Susan's old tin chip pan, half full of burning coals. 

" * You watch mel she said boastfully. * I've never 
done this, but I know how it's done. It's kill or cure 

— but that child is dying anyway.' 

" She sprinkled a spoonful of sulphur over the coals; 
and then she picked up Jims, turned him over, and held 
him face downward, right over those choking, blinding 
fumes. I don't know why I didn't spring forward and 
snatch him away. Susan says it was because it was 
foreordained that I shouldn't, and I think she is right, 
because it did really seem that I was powerless to move. 
Susan herself seemed transfixed, watching Mary from 
the doorway. Jim writhed in those big, firm, capable 
hands of Mary — oh yes, she is capable all right, — 
and choked and wheezed — and choked and wheezed 

— and I felt that he was being tortured to death — 
and then all at once, after what seemed to me an hour, 
though it really wasn't long, he coughed up the mem- 
brane that was killing him. Mary turned him over and 
laid him back on his bed. He was white as marble and 
the tears were pouring out of his brown eyes — but 
that awful livid look was gone from his face and he 
could breathe quite easily. 

" * Wasn't that some trick ? ' said Mary gaily. * I 
hadn't any idea how it would work, but I just took a 



272 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

chance. HI smoke his throat out again once or twice 
before morning, just to kill all the germs, but youTl 
see he'll be all right now/ 

" Jims went right to sleep — real sleep, not coma, as 
I feared at first. Mary * smoked him,' as she called 
it, twice through the night, and at daylight his throat 
was perfectly clear and his temperature was almost 
normal. When I made sure of that I turned and 
looked at Mary Vance. She was sitting on the lounge j 
laying down the law to Susan on some subject about 
which Susan must have known forty times as much as 
she did. But I didn't mind how much law she laid 
down or how much she bragged. She had a right to 
brag — she had dared to do what I would never have 
dared and had saved Jims from a horrible death. It 
didn't matter any more that she had once chased me 
through the Glen with a codfish — it didn't matter that 
she had smeared goose-grease all over my dream of 
romance the night of the lighthouse dance — it didn't 
matter that she thought she knew more than anybody 
else and always rubbed it in, — I would never dislike 
Mary Vance again. I went over to her and kissed her. \ 

" ' What's up now ? ' she said. 

" ' Nothing — only I'm so grateful to you, Mary.' 

" ' Well, I think you ought to be, that's a fact. You 
two would have let that baby die on your hands if I 
hadn't happened along/ said Mary, just beaming with 
complacency. She got Susan and me a tip-top break- 
fast and made us eat it, and ' bossed the life out of us,' 
as Susan says, for two days, until the roads were 
opened so that she could get home. Jims was almost 
well by that time and father turned up. He heard our 
tale without saying much. Father is rather scornful 



SHIRbEY GOES 273 

generally about what he calls 'old wives* remedies/ 
He laughed a little and said, ' After this, Mary Vance 
will expect me to call her in for consultation in all my 
serious cases.' 

" So Christmas was not so hard as I expected it to 
be; and now the New Year is coming — and we are 
still hoping for the ' Big Push ' that will end the war — 
and Little Dog Monday is getting stiff and rheumatic 
from his cold vigils, but still he ' carries on,' and Shir- 
ley continues to read the exploits of the aces. Oh, 
nineteen-se venteen, what will you bring ? " 



CHAPTER XXV 
Shirley Goes 

NO, Woodrow, there will be no peace without vic- 
tory,'' said Susan, sticking her knitting needle 
viciously through President Wilson's name in the 
newspaper column. '* We Canadians mean to have 
peace and victory, too. You, if it pleases you, Wood- 
row, can have the peace without the victory," — and 
Susan stalked off to bed with the comfortable con- 
sciousness of having got the better of the argument 
with the President. But a few days later she rushed 
to Mrs. Blythe in red-hot excitement. 

" Mrs. Dr. dear, what do you think? A 'phone mes- 
sage has just come through from Charlottetown that 
Woodrow Wilson has sent that German ambassador 
man to the right about at last. They tell me that 



i 



( 



274 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

means war. So I begin to think that WoodroVs heart 
is in the right place after all, wherever his head may be, 
and I am going to commandeer a littk sugar and cele^ 
brate the occasion with some fudge, despite the hoi/ds 
of the Food Board. I thought that submarine busi- 
ness would bring things to a crisis. I told Cousin 
Sophia so when she said it was the b^^inning of the 
end for the Allies." 

** Don't let the doctor hear of the fudge, Susan," 
said Anne, with a smile. '^^You know he has laid 
down very strict rules for us along the lines of economy 
the government has asked for." 

** Yes, Mrs. Dr. dear, and a man should be master 
in his own household and his women folk should bow 
to his decrees. I flatter myself that I am becoming 
quite efficient in economizing," — Susan had taken to 
using certain German terms with killing eflfect, — " but 
one can exercise a little gumption on the quiet now and 
then. Shirley was wishing for some of my fudge the 
other day — the Susan brand, as he called it — and I 
said * The first victory there is to celebrate I shall make 
you some.' I consider this news quite equal to a vic- 
tory and what the doctor does not know will never 
grieve him. / take the whole responsibility, Mrs. Dr. 
dear, so do not you vex your conscience." 

Susan spoiled Shirley shamelessly that winter. He 
came home from Queen's every week-end and Susan 
had all his favourite dishes for him, in so far as she ' 
could evade or wheedle the doctor, and waited on him 
hand and foot. Though she talked war constantly to 
everyone else she never mentioned it to him or before 
him ; but she watched him like a cat watching a mouse ; 
and when the German retreat from the Bapaume salient 



SHIRLEY GOES 275 

began and continued Susan's exultation was linked up 
with something deeper than anything she expressed. 
Surely the end was in sight — would come now before 
— anyone else — could go. 

"Things are coming our way at last," she told 
Cousin Sophia triumphantly. " The United States has 
declared war at last, as I always believed they would, 
in spite of Woodrow's gift for letter writing, and you 
will see they will go into it with a vim since I understand 
that is their habit, when they do start And we have 
got the Germans on the run, too." 

"The States mean well," moaned Cousin Sophia, 
** biit all the vim in the world cannot put them on the 
fighting line this spring and the Allies will be finished 
before that. The Germans are just luring them on. 
That man Simonds says their retreat has put the 
Allies in a hole." 

** That man Simonds has said more than he will ever 
live to make good," retorted Susan. " I do not worry 
myself about his opinion as long as Lloyd George is 
Premier of England He will not be bamboozled, and 
that you may tie to. Things look good to me. The 
XJ. S. is in the war, and we have got Kut and Bag- 
dad back — and I would not be surprised to see the 
Allies in Berlin by June — and the Russians, too, since 
they have got rid of the Czar. That in my opinion was 
a good piece of work." 

" Time will show if it is," said Cousin Sophia, who 
would have been very indignant if anyone had told her 
that she Would rather see Susan put to shame as a 
seer than a successful overthrow of tyranny, or even 
the march of the Allies down Unter den Linden. But 
then the woes of the Russian people were quite un- 



276 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

knovsm to Cousin Sophia, while this aggravating, op- 
timistic Susan was an ever-present thorn in her side. 

Just at that moment Shirley was sitting on the edge 
of the table in the living room, swinging* his legs — a 
brown, ruddy, wholesome lad, from top to toe, every 
inch of him — and saying coolly, 

" Mother and dad, I was eighteen last Monday. | 
Don't you think it's about time I joined up ? " 

The pale mother looked at him. 

" Two of my sons have gone and one will never re- 
turn. Must I give you too, Shirley? " 

The age-old cry — " Joseph is not and Simeon is not; 
and ye will take Benjamin away." How the mothers 
of the Great War echoed the old Patriarch's moan of 
so many centuries agone! 

" You wouldn't have me a slacker, mother? I can 
get into the flying corps. What say, dad ? " 

The doctor's hands were not quite steady as he folded 
up the powders he was concocting for Abbie Flagg's 
rheumatism. He had known this moment was com- 
ing, yet he was not altogether prepared for it. He an- 
swered slowly, 

" I won't try to hold you back from what you be- 
lieve to be your duty. But you must not go unless your 
mother says you may." 

Shirley said nothing more. He was not a lad of 
many words. Anne did not say anything more just 
then, either. She was thinking of little Joyce's grave 
in the old burying-ground over-harbour, — little Joyce 
who would have been a woman now, had she lived — of 
the white cross in France and the splendid grey eyes of 
the little boy who had been taught his first lesson? of 
duty and loyalty at her knee — of Jem in the terrible 






SHIRLEY GOES 277 

trenches — of Nan and Di and Rilla, waiting — wait- 
ing — waiting, while the golden years of youth passed 
by — and she wondered if she could bear any more. 
She thought not ; surely she had given enough. 

Yet that night she told Shirley that he might go. 

They did not tell Susan right away. She did not 
know it until, a few days later, Shirley presented him- 
self in her kitchen in his aviation uniform. Susan 
didn't make half the fuss she had made when Jem and 
Walter had gone. She said stonily. 
So they're going to take you, too." 
Take me? No. Fm going, Susan — got to." 

Susan sat down by the table, folded her knotted old 
hands, that had grown warped and twisted working 
for the Ingleside children, to still their shaking, and 
said, 

" Yes, you must go. I did not see once why such 
things must be but I can see now." 

" You're a brick, Susan," said Shirley. He was re- 
lieved that she took it so coolly — he had been a little 
afraid, with a boy's horror of "a scene." He went 
out whistling gaily ; but half an hour later, when pale 
Anne Blythe came in, Susan was still sitting there, 
with unwashed dishes around her. 

" Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, making an admission 
she would once have died rather than make " I feel 
very old. Jem and Walter were yours but Shirley is 
mine. And I cannot bear to think of him flying — 
and his machine crashing down — the life crushed out 
of his body — the dear little body I nursed and cuddled 
when he was a wee baby." 

'* Susan — don't," cried Anne. 

" Oh, Mrs. Dr. dear, I beg your pardon. I ought 



278 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

not to have said anything like that out loud. I som^ 
times forget that I resolved to be a heroine. This — 
this has shaken me a little. But I will not forget my- 
self again. Only if things do not go as smoothly as 
usual in the kitchen for a few days I hope you will 
make due allowance for me. At least," said poor 
Susan, forcing a grim smile in a desperate eflFort to r^ 
cover lost standing, " at least flying is a clean job. He 
will not get so dirty and messed up as he would In the 
trenches, and that is well for he has always b^n a tidy 
child.'' 

So Shirley went — not radiantly, as to a high adven- 
ture, like Jem, not in a white flame of sacrifice, like 
Walter, but in a cool, business-like mood, as of one 
doing something, rather dirty and disagreeable, that 
had just got to be done. He kissed Susan for the first 
time since he was five years old, and said " Good-bye, 
Susan, — mother Susan." 

** My little brown boy — my little brown boy," said 
Susan. " I wonder," she thought bitterly, as she 
looked at the doctor's sorrowful face, " if you remem- 
ber how you spanked him once when !he was a baby. 
I am thankful I have nothing like that on my conscience 
now." 

The doctor did not remember the old discipline. 
But before he put on his hat to go out on his round of 
calls he stood for a moment in the great silent living 
room that had once been full of children's laughter. 

" Our last son — our last son," he said aloud. " A 
good, sturdy, sensible lad, too. Always reminded me 
of my father. I suppose I ought to be proud that he 
wanted to go — I was proud when Jem went, — even 



SHIRLEY GOES 279 

when Walter went — but * our house is left us deso- 
late.' '' 

" I have been thinking, doctor/' old Sandy of the 
Upper Glen said to him that afternoon, "that your 
house will be seeming very big the day." 

Highland Sandy's quaint phrase struck the doctor 
as perfectly expressive. Ingleside did seem very big 
and empty that nig'ht. Yet Shirley had been away all 
winter except for week ends and had always been a 
quiet fellow even when home. Was it because he had 
been the only one left that his going seemed to leave 
such a huge blank — that every room seemed vacant 
and deserted — that the very trees on the lawn seemed 
to be trying to comfort each other with caresses of 
freshly-budding boughs for the loss of the last of the 
little lads who had romped under them in childhood. 

Susan worked very hard all day and late into the 
night. When she had wound the kitchen clock and 
put Dr. Jekyll out, none too gently, she stood for a 
little while on the doorstep, looking down the Glen, 
whidh lay tranced in faint, silvery light from a sinking 
young moon. But Susan did not see the familiar hills 
and harbour. She was looking at the aviation camp 
in Kingsport where Shirley was that night. 

He called me ' Mother Susan,' " she was thinking. 
Well, all our men folk have gone now — Jem and 
Walter and Shirley and Jerry and Carl. And none 
of them had to be driven to it. So we have a right to 
be proud. But pride — " Susan sighed bitterly, — 
" pride is cold company and that there is no gainsay- 
ing." 

The moon sank lower into a black cloud in the west, 



it 



28o RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the Glen went out in an eclipse of sudden shadow, — 
and thousands of miles away the Canadian boys in 
khaki — the living and the dead — were in possession 
of Vimy Ridge. 

Vimy Ridge is a name written in crimson and gold 
on the Canadian annals of the Great War. " The 
British couldn't take it and the French couldn't take 
it," said a German prisoner to his captors, " but you 
Canadians are such fools that you don't know when a 
place can't be taken ! " 

So the *' fools " took it — and paid the price. 

Jerry Meredith was seriously wounded at Vimy 
Ridge — shot in the back the telegram said. 

" Poor Nan," said Mrs. Blythe, when the news came. 
She thought of her own happy girlhood at old Green 
Gables. There had been no tragedy like this in it. 
How the girls of today had to suffer! When Nan 
came home from Redmond two weeks later her face 
showed what those weeks had meant to her. John 
Meredith, too, seemed to have grovm old suddenly in 
them. Faith did not come home ; she was on her way 
across the Atlantic as a V. A. D. Di had tried to 
wring from her father consent to 'her going also but 
had been told that for her mother's sake it could not 
be given. So Di, after a flying visit home, went back 
to her Red Cross work in Kingsport. 

The may flowers bloomed in the secret nooks of 
Rainbow Valley. Rilla was watching for them. Jem 
had once taken his mother the earliest mayflowers; 
Walter brought them to her when Jem was gone ; last 
spring Shirley had sought them out for her ; now, Rilla 
thought, she must take the boys' place in this. But 
before she had discovered any, Bruce Meredith came 



SHIRLEY GOES 281 

to Ingleside one twilight with his 'hands full of deli- 
cate pink sprays. He stalked up the steps of the ve- 
randa and laid them on Mrs. Blythe's lap. 

" Because Shirley isn't here to bring them," he said 
in his funny, shy, blunt way. 

" And you thought of this, you darling," said Anne, 
her lips quivering, as she looked at the stocky, black- 
browed little dhap, standing before her, with his hands 
thrust into his pockets. 

" I wrote Jem today and told him not to worry 'bout 
you not getting your mayflowers," said Bruce seri- 
ously, " 'cause rd see to that. And I told him I would 
be ten pretty soon now, so it won't be very long before 
I'll be eighteen and then I'll go to help him fight, and 
maybe let him come home for a rest while I took his 
place. I wrote Jerry, too. Jerry's getting better, you 
know." 

" Is he ? Have you had any good news about 
him ? " 

** Yes. Mother had a letter today, and it said 'he 
was out of danger." 

" Oh, thank God," murmured Mrs. Blythe, in a half- 
whisper. 

Bruce looked at her curiously. 

" That is what father said when mother told him. 
But when / said it the other day when I found out Mr. 
Mead's dog hadn't hurt my kitten, — I thought he had 
shooken it to death, you know — father looked awful 
solemn and said I must never say that again about a 
kitten. But I couldn't understand why, Mrs. Blythe. 
I felt awful thankful, and it must have been God that 
saved Stripey, because that Mead dog had 'normous 
jaws and oh, how it shook poor Stripey. And so why 



282 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

couldn't I thank Him? 'Course," added Bruce remi- 
nisccntly, "maybe I said it too loud — 'cause I was 
awful glad and excited when I found Stripey was all 
right I 'most s^houted it, Mrs. Blythe. Maybe if Fd 
said it sort of whispery like you and father it would 
have been all right. Do you know, Mrs. Blythe,"— 
Bruce dropped to a " whispery " tone, edging a little 
nearer to Anne — "what I would like to do to the 
Kaiser if I could?" 

" What would you like to do, laddie ? " 

" Norman Reese said in school today that he would 
like to tie the Kaiser to a tree and set cross dogs to 
worrying him," said Bruce gravely. "And Emily 
Flagg said she would like to put him in a cage and 
poke sharp things into him. And they all said things 
like that. But Mrs. Blythe "— Bruce took a little 
square paw out of his pocket and put it earnestly on 
Anne's knee, — " I would like to turn the Kaiser into a 
good man — a very good man — all at once if I could. 
That is what / would do. Don't you think, Mrs. 
Blythe, that would be the very worstest punishment of 
all?" 

" Bless the child," said Susan, " how do you make 
out that would be any kind of a punishment for that 
wicked fiend ? " 

"Don't you see," said Bruce, looking levelly at 
Susan, out of his blackly-blue eyes, " if 'he was turned 
into a good man he would understand how dreadful the 
things he has done are and he would feel so terrible 
about it that he would be more unhappy and miserable 
than he could ever be in any other way. He would 
feel just awful — and he would go on feeling like 
that forever. Yes" — Bruce clenched his hands and 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 283 

nodded his head emphatically, " yes, / would make the 
Kaiser a good man — that is what / would do — it 
would serve him 'zackly right." 



CHAPTER XXVI 
Susan Has a Proposal of Marriage 

AN aeroplane was flying over Glen St Mary, like 
a great bird poised against the western sky, — a 
sky so clear and of such a pale, silvery yellow, that it 
gave an impression of a vast, wind- freshened space 
of freedom. The little group on the Ingleside lawn 
looked up at it with fascinated eyes, although it was 
by no means an unusual thing to see an occasional 
hovering plane that summer. Susan was always in- 
tensely excited. Who knew but that it might be Shir- 
ley away up there in the clouds, flying over to the Island 
from Kingsport ? But Shirley had gone overseas now, 
so Susan was not so keenly interested in this particular 
aeroplane and its pilot. Nevertheless, she looked at it 
with awe. 

I wonder, Mrs. Dr. dear," she said solemnly, 
what the old folks down there in the graveyard would 
think if they could rise out of their graves for one 
moment and behold that sight. I am sure my father 
would disapprove of it, for he was a man who did not 
believe in new-fangled ideas of any sort. He always 
cut his grain with a reaping hook to the day of his 
death. A mower he would not have. What was good 



€4 



I 



284 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

enough for his father was good enough for him, he 
used to say. I hope it is not unfilial to say that I think 
he was wrong in that point of view, but I am not sure 
I go so far as to approve of aeroplanes, though they 
may be a military necessity. If the Almighty had 
meant us to fly he would have provided us with wings. 
Since He did not it is plain he meant us to stick to the 
solid earth. At any rate, you will never see nte, Mrs. 
Dr. dear, cavorting through the sky in an aeroplane." 

" But you won't refuse to cavort a bit in father's 
new automobile when it comes, will you, Susan?" 
teased Rilla. 

" I do not expect to trust my old bones in auto- 
mobiles, either," retorted Susan. " But I do not 
look upon them as some narrow-minded people do. 
Whiskers-on-the-moon says the Government should be 
turned out of office for permitting them to run on the 
Island at all. He foams at the mouth, they tell me, 
when he sees one. The other day 'he saw one coming 
along that narrow side-road by his wheat field, and 
Whiskers bounded over the fence and stood right in 
the middle of the road, with his pitchfork. The man 
in the machine was an agent of some kind, and Whisk- 
ers hates agents as much as he hates automobiles. He 
made the car come to a halt, because there was not 
room to pass him on either side, and the agent could 
not actually run over him. Then he raised his pitch- 
fork and shouted, * Get out of this with your devil- 
machine or I will run this pitchfork clean through you.' 
And Mrs. Dr. dear, if you will believe me, that poor 
agent had to back his car clean out to the Lowbridge 
road, nearly a mile. Whiskers following him every 
step, shaking his pitchfork and bellowing insults. 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 285 

Now, Mrs. Dr. dear, / call such conduct unreasonable ; 
but all the same," added Susan, with a sigh, ** what 
with aeroplanes and automobiles and all the rest of it, 
this Island is not what it used to be." 

The aeroplane soared and dipped and circled, and 
soared again, until it became a mere speck far over the 
sunset hills. 



ft t 



With the majesty of pinion 
Which the Theban eagles bear, 
Sailing with supreme dominion 
Through the azure fields of air.' '* 

quoted Anne Blythe dreamily. 

*' I wonder," said Miss Oliver, " if humanity will be 
any happier because of aeroplanes. It seems to me 
that the sum of human happiness remains much the 
same from age to age, no matter how it may vary in 
distribution, and that all the * many inventions ' neither 
lessen nor increase it." 

" After all, the * kingdom of heaven is within you,' " 
said Mr. Meredith, gazing after the vanishing speck 
which symbolized man's latest victory in a world-old 
struggle. " It does not depend on material achieve- 
ments and triump'hs." 

" Nevertheless, an aeroplane is a fascinating thing," 
said the doctor. " It has always been one of human- 
ity's favourite dreams — the dream of flying. Dream 
after dream comes true — or rather is made true by 
persevering effort. I should like to have a flight in an 
aeroplane myself." 

" Shirley wrote me that he was dreadfully disap- 
pointed in his first flight," said Rilla. ** He had ex- 
pected to experience the sensation of soaring up from 



286 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the earth like a bird — and instead *he just had the 
feeling that he wasn't moving at all, but that the earth 
was dropping away under him. And the first time he 
went up alone he suddenly felt terribly homesick. He 
had never felt like that before ; but all at once, he said, 
he felt as if he were adrift in space — and he had a 
wild desire to get back *home to the old planet and the 
companionship of fellow creatures. He soon got over 
that feeling, but he says his first flight alone was a 
nightmare to him because of that dreadful sensation of 
ghastly loneliness.'* 

The aeroplane disappeared. The doctor threw back 
his head with a sigh. 

" When I have watched one of those bird-men out of 
sight I come back to earth with an odd feeling of being 
merely a crawling insect. Anne," he said, turning to 
his wife, " do you remember the first time I took you 
for a buggy ride in Avonlea — that night we went to 
the Carmody concert, the first fall you taught in Avon- 
lea ? I had our little black mare with the white star on 
her fore head, and a shining brand-new buggy, — and I 
was the proudest fellow in the world, barring none. 
I suppose our grandson will be taking his sweetheart 
out quite casually for an evening * fly ' in his aero- 
plane." 

" An aeroplane won't be as nice as little Silverspot 
was," said Anne. " A machine is simply a machine, 
— but Silverspot, why she was a personality, Gilbert. 
A drive behind her had something in it that not even 
a flight among sunset clouds could have. No, I don't 
envy my grandson's sweetheart, after all. Mr. Mere- 
dith is rig'ht. ' The Kingdom of Heaven ' — and of 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 287 

i love — and of happiness — doesn't depend on extern- 

k als." 

1 " Besides/* said the doctor gravely, " our said 
J grandson will have fo give most of his attention to the 
2: aeroplane — he won't be able to let the reins lie on its 

: back while he gazes into his lady's eyes. And I have 

2 an awful suspicion that you can't run an aeroplane with 
! one arm. No " — the doctor shook his head — " I be- 
s: lieve Fd still prefer Silverspot after all." 

: The Russian line broke again that summer and 
Susan said bitterly that she had expected it ever since 
Kerensky had gone and got married. 

" Far be it from me to decry the holy state of matri- 
mony, Mrs. Dr. dear, but I felt that when a man was 
running a revolution he had his hands full and should 
have postponed marriage until a more fitting season. 
The Russians are done for this time and there would 
be no sense in shutting our eyes to the fact. But 'have 
you seen Woodrow Wilson's reply to the Pope's peace 
proposals ? It is magnificent. I really could not have 
expressed the rights of the matter better myself. I 
feel that I can forgive Wilson everything for it. He 
knows the meaning of words and that you may tie to. 
Speaking of meanings, have you heard the latest story 
about Whiskers-on-the-moon, Mrs. Dr. dear? It 
seems he was over at the Lowbridge Road school the 
other day and took a notion to examine the fourth 
class in spelling. They have the summer term there 
yet, you know, with the spring and fall vacations, 
being rather backward people on that road. My niece, 
Ella Baker, goes to that school and she it was who told 
me the story. The teacher was not feeling well, hav- 



288 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ing a dreadful headache, and she went out to get a 
little fresh air while Mr. Pryor was examining the 
class. The children got along all right with the spell- 
ing but when Whiskers began to question them about 
the meanings of the words they were all at sea, be- 
cause they had not learned them. Ella and the other 
big scholars felt terrible over it. They love their 
teacher so, and it seems Mr. Pryor's brother, Abel 
Pryor, who is a trustee of that school, is against her 
and has been trying to turn the other trustees over to 
his way of thinking. And Ella and the rest were 
afraid that if the fourth class couldn't tell Whiskers 
the meanings of the words he would think the teacher 
was no good and tell Abel so, and Abel would have a 
fine handle. But little Sandy Logan saved the sit- 
uation. He is a Home boy, but he is as smart as a 
steel trap, and he sized up Whiskers-on-the-moon right 
off. * What does " anatomy '' mean ? ' Whiskers de- 
manded. *A pain in your stomach,' Sandy replied, 
quick as a flash and never batting an eyelid. Whisk- 
erson-the-moon is a very ignorant man, Mrs. Dr. 
dear; he didn't know the meaning of the words him- 
self, and he said * Very good — very good.' The class 
caught right on — at least three or four of the brighter 
ones did — and they kept up the fun. Jean Blane said 
that * acoustic' meant 'a religious squabble,' and 
Muriel Baker said that an agnostic was a man who had 
indigestion, and Jim Carter said that * acerbity ' meant 
that you ate nothing but vegetable food, and so on all 
down the list. Whiskers swallowed it all, and kept 
saying ' Very good — very good ' until Ella thought 
that die she would trying to keep a straight face. 
When the teacher came in, Whiskers complimented her 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 289 

on the splendid understanding the children had of their 
lesson, and said he meant to tell her trustees what a 
jewel they had. It was * very unusual ' he said, to find 
a fourth class who could answer up so prompt when it 
came to explaining what words meant. He went off 
beaming. But Ella told me this as a great secret, Mrs. 
Dr. dear, and we must keep it as such, for the sake of 
the Lowbridge Road teacher. It would likely be the 
ruin of her chances of keeping the school if Whiskers 
should ever find out how he had been bamboozled/' 

Mary Vance came up to Ingleside that same after- 
noon to tell them that Miller Douglas, who had been 
wounded when the Canadians took Hill 70, had had to 
have his leg amputated. The Ingleside folk sympa- 
thized with Mary, whose zeal and patriotism had 
taken some time to kindle but now burned with a glow 
as steady and bright as any one's. 

" Some folks have been twitting me about having a 
husband with only one leg. But," said Mary, rising 
to a lofty height, " I would rather have Miller with 
only one leg than any other man in the world with a 
dozen — unless," she added as an after-thought, "un- 
less it was Lloyd George. Well, I must be going. I 
thought you'd be interested in hearing about Miller, so 
I run up from the store, but I must hustle home for I 
promised Luke MacAllister Td help him build his grain 
stack this evening. It's up to us girls to see that the 
harvest is got in, since the boys are so scarce. Fve 
got overalls and I can tell you they're real becoming. 
Mrs. Alec Douglas says they're indecent and shouldn't 
be allowed, and even Mrs. Elliott kinder looks askance 
at them. But bless you, the world moves, and anyhow 
there's no fun for me like shocking Kitty Alec." 



290 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" By the way, father," said Rilla, " I'm going to take 
Jack Flagg's place in his father's store for a month. 
I promised him today that I would, if you didn't ob- 
ject. Then he can help the farmers get the harvest 
in. I don't think I'd be much use in a harvest field 
myself — though lots of the girls are — but I can set 
Jack free while I do his work. Jims isn't much bother 
in the day-time now, and I'll always be home at night" 

'* Do you think you'll like weighing out sugar and 
beans, and trafficking in butter and eggs ? '* said the 
doctor, twinkling. 

" Probably not. That isn't the question. It's just 
one way of doing my bit" 

So Rilla went behind Mr. Flagg's counter for a 
month; and Susan went into Albert Crawford's oat 
fields. 

" I am as good as any of them yet," she said proudly. 
" Not a man of them can beat me when it comes to 
building a stack. When I offered to help Albert 
looked doubtful. * I am afraid the work will be too 
hard for you,' he said. * Try me for a day and see,' 
said I. ' I will do my darnedest.' " 

None of the Ingleside folks spoke for just a mo- 
ment. Their silence meant that they thought Susan's 
pluck in " working out " quite wonderful. But Susan 
mistook their meaning and her sunburned face grew 
red. 

" This habit of swearing seems to be growing on me, 
Mrs. Dr. dear," she said apologetically. "To think 
that I should be acquiring it at my age! It is such a 
dreadful example to the young girls. I am of the 
opinion it comes of reading the newspapers so much. 
They are so full of profanity and they do not spell it 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 291 

with stars either, as used to be done in my young days. 
This war is demoralizing everybody." 

Susan, standing on a load of grain, her grey hair 
whipping in the breeze and her skirt kilted up to her 
knees for safety and convenience — no overalls for 
Susan, if you please — was neither a beautiful nor a 
romantic figure ; but the spirit that animated her gaunt 
arms was the self -same one that captured Vimy Ridge 
and held the German legions back from Verdun. 

It is not the least likely, however, that this consider- 
ation was the one which appealed most strongly to Mr. 
Pryor when he drove past one afternoon and saw 
Susan pitching sheaves gamely. 

" Smart woman that," he reflected. " Worth two 
of many a younger one yet. I might do worse — I 
might do worse. If Milgrave comes home alive FU 
lose Miranda and hired housekeepers cost more than 
a wife and are liable to leave a man in the lurch any 
time, ril think it over." 

A week later Mrs. Blythe, coming up from the vil- 
lage late in the afternoon, paused at the gate of Ingle- 
side in an amazement which temporarily bereft her of 
the power of motion. An extraordinary sight met her 
eyes. Around the end of the kitchen burst Mr. Pryor, 
running as stout, pompous Mr. Pryor had not run for 
years, with terror imprinted on every lineament, — a 
terror quite justifiable, for behind him, like an aveng- 
ing fate, came Susan, with a huge, smoking iron pot 
grasped in her hands, and an. expression in her eye that 
boded ill to the object pf her indignation, if she should 
overtake him. Pursuer and pursued tore across the 
lawn. Mr. Pryor reached the gate a few^eet ahead of 
Sttsaji, wrenched it open, and fled down the road. 



292 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

without a glance at the transfixed lady of Ingleside. 

" Susan," gasped Anne. 

Susan halted in her mad career, set down her pot, 
and shook her fist aftef Mr. Pryor, who had not ceased 
to run, evidently believing that Susan was still in full 
cry after him. 

" Susan, what does this mean ? *' demanded Anne, a 
little severely. 

'* You may well ask that, Mrs. Dr. dear," Susan 
replied wrath fully. " I have not been so upset in 
years. That — that — that pacifist has actually had 
the audacity to come up here and, in my own kitchen, 
to ask me to marry him. him ! " 

Anne choked back a laugh. 

"But — Susan! Couldn't you have found a — 
well, a less spectacular method of refusing him? 
Think what a gossip this would have made if any one 
had been going past and had seen such a performance.*' 

" Indeed, Mrs. Dr. dear, you are quite right. I did 
not think of it because I was quite past thinking ra- 
tionally. I was just clean mad. Come in the house 
and I will tell you all about it." 

Susan picked up her pot and marched into the 
kitchen, still trembling with wrathful excitement. She 
set her pot on the stove with a vicious thud. 

" Wait a moment until I open all the windows to 
air this kitchen well, Mrs. Dr. dear. There, that is 
better. And I must wash my hands, too, because I 
shook hands with Whiskers-on-the-moon when he came 
in — not that I wanted to, but when he stuck out his 
fat, oily hand I did not know just what else to do at 
the moment. I had just finished my afternoon clean- 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 293 

ing and thanks be, everything was shining and spot- 
less ; and thought I * now that dye is boiling and I will 
get my rug rags and have them nicely out of the way 
before supper/ Just then a shadow fell over the floor 
and looking up I saw Whiskers-on-the-moon, stand- 
ing in the doorway, dressed up and looking as if he had 
just been starched and ironed. I shook hands with 
him, as aforesaid, Mrs. Dr. dear, and told him you 
and the doctor were both away. But he said, 
" ' I have come to see you, Miss Baker.' 
" I was dumbfoundered, for not a notion of his de- 
sign occurred to me, and what he wanted of me I could 
not imagine. But I asked him to sit down, for the 
sake of my own manners, and then I stood there right 
in the middle of the floor and gazed at him as con- 
temptuously as I could. In spite of his brazen assur- 
ance this seemed to rattle him a little; but he began 
trying to look sentimental at me out of his little piggy 
eyes, and all at once an awful suspicion flashed into my 
mind. Something told me, Mrs. Dr. dear, that I was 
about to receive my first proposal. I have always 
thought that I would like to have just one oflFer of 
marriage to reject, so that I might be able to look 
other women in the face, but you will not hear me 
bragging of this. I consider it an insult and if I could 
have thought of any way of preventing it I would. 
But just then, Mrs. Dr. dear, you will see I was at a 
disadvantage, being taken so completely by surprise. 
Some men, I am told, consider a little preliminary 
courting the proper thing before a proposal, if only to 
give fair warning of their intentions; but Whiskers-on- 
the-moon probably thought it was any port in a storm 



294 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

for me and that I would jump at him. Well, he is un- 
deceived — yes, he is undeceived, Mrs. Dr. dear. I 
wonder if he has stopped running yet." 

*' I understand that you don't feel flattered, Susan. 
But couldn't you have refused him a little more deli- 
cately than by chasing him off the premises in such a - 
fashion?" I 

" Well, maybe I might have, Mrs. Dr. dear, and I 
intended to, but one remark he made aggravated me 
beyond my powers of endurance. If it had not been 
for that I would not have chased him with my dy^ 
pot, although of course I would never have dreamed 
of accepting him. I will tell you the whole interview. 
Whiskers sat down, as I have said and right beside him 
on another chair Doc was lying. The animal was pit- 
tending to be asleep but I knew very well he was not, 
for he has been Hyde all day and Hyde never sleeps. 
By the way, Mrs. Dr. dear, have you noticed that that 
cat is far oftener Hyde than Jekyll now? The more 
victories Germany wins the Hyder he becomes. I 
leave you to draw your own conclusions from that. I 
suppose Whiskers thought he might curry favour with 
me by praising the creature, little dreaming what my 
real sentiments towards it were, so he stuck out his 
pudgy hand and stroked Mr. Hyde's back. ' What a 
nice cat,' he said. The nice cat flew at him and bit 
him. Then it gave a fearful yowl, and bounded out 
of the door. Whiskers looked after it quite amazed. 

* That is a queer kind of a varmint,' he said. I agreed 
with him on that point, but I was not going to let him 
see it. Besides, what business had he to call our cat a 
varmint ? * It may be a varmint or it may not,' I said, 

* but it knows the difference between a Canadian and 



\ 



SUSAN HAS A PROPOSAL 295 

a Hun.' You would have thought, would you not, 
Mrs. Dr. dear, that a hint like that would have been 
enough for him ! But it went no deeper than his skin. 
I saw him settling back quite comfortable, as if for a 
good talk, and thought I, * If there is anything coming 
it may as well come soon and be done with, for with 
all these rags to dye before supper I have no time to 
waste in flirting, so I spoke right out. * If you have 
anything particular to discuss with me, Mr. Pryor, I 
would feel obliged if you would mention it without 
loss of time, because I am very busy this afternoon.' 
He fairly beamed at me out of that circle of red 
whisker, and said, * You are a business-like woman and 
I agree with you. There is no use in wasting time 
beating around the bush. I came up here today to 
ask you to marry me.' So there it was, Mrs. Dr. 
dear. I had a proposal at last, after waiting sixty- 
four years for one. 

" I just glared at that presumptuous creature and I 
said, * I would not marry you if you were the last man 
on earth, Josiah Pryor. So there you have my an- 
swer and you can take it away forthwith.' You never 
saw a man so taken aback as he was, Mrs. Dr. dear. 
He was so flabbergasted that he just blurted out the 
truth. * Why, I thought you'd be only too glad to get 
a chance to be married,' he said. That was when I 
lost my head, Mrs. Dr. dear. Do you not think I had 
a good excuse, when a Hun and a paciflst made such 
an insulting remark to me ? ' Go,' I thundered, and I 
just caught up that iron pot. I could see that he 
thought I had suddenly gone insane, and I suppose he 
considered an iron pot full of boiling dye was a danger- 
ous weapon in the hands of a lunatic. At any rate he 



296 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

went, and stood not upon the order of his going, as 
you saw for yourself. And I do not think we will 
see him back here proposing to us again in a hurry. 
No, I think he has learned that there is at least one 
single woman in Glen St. Mary who has no hankering 
to become Mrs. Whiskers-on-the-moon/' 



CHAPTER XXVII 



Waiting 



Ingleside, 

November ist, 19 17 

"It is November — and the Glen is all grey and 
brown, except where the Lombardy poplars stand up 
here and there like great golden torches in the sombre 
landscape, although every other tree has shed its 
leaves. It has been very hard to keep our courage 
alight of late. The Caporetto disaster is a dreadful 
thing and not even Susan can extract much consola- 
tion out of the present state of affairs. The rest of 
us don't try. Gertrude keeps saying desperately, 
* They must not get Venice — they, must not get 
Venice,* as if by saying it often enough she can pre- 
vent them. But what is to prevent them from getting 
Venice I cannot see. Yet, as Susan fails not to point 
out, there was seemingly nothing to prevent them from 
getting to Paris in 19 14, yet they did not get it, and 
she affirms they shall not get Venice either. Oh, how 
I hope and pray they will not — Venice the beautiful 



WAITING 297 

Queen of the Adriatic. Although Fve never seen it I 
feel about it just as Byron did — I've always loved it 
— it has always been to me * a fairy city of the heart.' 
Perhaps I caught my love of it from Walter, who wor- 
shipped it. It was always one of his dreams to see 
Venice. I remember we planned once — down in 
Rainbow Valley one evening just before the war broke 
out — that some time we would go together to see it 
and float in a gondola through its moonlit streets. 

" Every fall since the war began there has been some 
terrible blow to our troops, — Antwerp in 19 14, Serbia 
in 1915; last fall, Roumania, and now Italy, the worst 
of all. I think I would give up in despair if it were 
not for what Walter said in his dear last letter — that 
* the dead as well as the living were fighting on our 
side and such an army cannot be defeated.' No, it 
cannot. We will win in the end. I will not doubt it 
for one moment. To let myself doubt would be to 
' break faith.' 

**We have all been campaigning furiously of late 
for the new Victory Loan. We Junior Reds can- 
vassed diligently and landed several tough old cus- 
tomers who had at first flatly refused to invest. I — 
even I — tackled Whiskers-on-the-moon. I expected 
a bad time and a refusal. But to my amazement he 
was quite agreeable and promised on the spot to take 
a thousand dollar bond. He may be a pacifist, but he 
knows a good investment when it is handed out to him. 
Five and a half per cent, is five and half per cent, even 
when a militaristic government pays it. 

" Father, to tease Susan, says it was her speech at 
the Victory Loan Campaign meeting that converted 
Mr. Pryor. I don't think that at all likely, since Mr. 



298 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Pryor has been publicly very bitter against Susan ever 
since her quite unmistakable rejection of his lover- 
like advances. But Susan did make a speech — and 
the best one made at the meeting, too. It was the first 
time she ever did such a thing and she vows it will be 
the last. Everybody in the Glen was at the meeting, 
and quite a number of speeches were made, but some- 
how things were a little flat and no especial enthusiasm 
could be worked up. Susan was quite dismayed at 
the lack of zeal, because she has been burningly anx- 
ious that the Island should go over the top in regard to 
its quota. She kept whispering viciously to Gertrude 
and me that there was * no ginger ' in the speeches ; and 
when nobody went forward to subscribe to the loan at 
the close Susan * lost her head.' At least, that is how 
she describes it herself. She bounded to her feet, her 
face grim and set under her bonnet — Susan is the 
only woman in Glen St. Mary who still wears a bon- 
net — and said sarcastically and loudly, * No doubt it 
is much cheaper to talk patriotism than it is to pay for 
it. And we are asking charity, of course — we are 
asking you to lend us your money for nothing! No 
doubt the Kaiser will feel quite downcast when be 
hears of this meeting! ' 

'^ Susan has an unshaken belief that the Kaiser's 
spies — presumably represented by Mr. Pryor — 
promptly inform him of every happening in our Glen. 

" Norman Douglas shouted out * Hear ! Hear ! ' and 
some boy at the back said, * What about Lloyd 
George ? ' in a tone Susan didn't like. Lloyd George 
is her pet hero, now that Kitchener is gone. 

"*I stand behind Lloyd George every time,' re 
torted Susan. 



WAITING 299 



^i i 



I suppose that will hearten him up greatly/ said 
Warren Mead, with one of his disagreeable 'haw- 
haws.' 

"Warren's remark was spark to powder. Susan 
just * sailed in ' as she puts it, and * said her say.' She 
said it remarkably well, too. There was no lack of 
' ginger ' in her speech, anyhow. When Susan is 
warmed up she has no mean powers of oratory, and the 
way she trimmed those men down was funny and won- 
derful and effective all at once. She said it was the 
likes of her, millions of her, that did stand behind 
Lloyd George, and did hearten him up. That was the 
key-note of her speech. Dear old Susan! She is a 
perfect dynamo of patriotism and loyalty and contempt 
for slackers of all kinds, and when she let it loose on 
that audience in her one grand outburst she electri- 
fied it. Susan always vows she is no suffragette, but 
she gave womanhood its due that night, and she liter- 
ally made those men cringe. When she finished with 
them they were ready to eat out of her hand. She 
wound up by ordering them — yes, ordering them — 
to march up to the platform forthwith and subscribe 
for Victory Bonds. And after wild applause most 
of them did it, even Warren Mead. When the total 
amount subscribed came out in the Charlottetown 
dailies the next day we found that the Glen led every 
district on the Island — and certainly Susan has the 
credit for it. She, herself, after she came home that 
night was quite ashamed and evidently feared that she 
had been guilty of conduct unbecoming an unmarried 
woman: she confessed to mother that sh^ had been 
* rather unladylike.' 

" We were all — except Susan — out for a trial ride 



300 MLLA OF INGLESIDE 

in father's new automobile tonight. A very good one 
we had, too, though we did get ingloriously ditched at 
the end, owing to a certain grim old dame — to wit, 
Miss Elizabeth Carr of the Upper Glen — who 
wouldn't rein her horse out to let us pass, honk as we 
might. Father was quite furious ; but in my heart I 
believe I sympathized with Mias Elizabeth. If I had 
been a spinster lady, driving along behind my own old 
nag, in maiden meditation fancy free, I wouldn't have 
lifted a rein when an obstreperous car hooted blatantly 
behind me. I should just have sat up as dourly as she 
did and said * Take the ditch if you are determined to 
pass.' 

" We did take the ditch — and got up to our axles 
in sand — and sat foolishly there while Miss Elizabeth 
clucked up her horse and rattled victoriously away 
from us. 

" Jem will have a laugh when I write him this. He 
knows Miss Elizabeth of old. 

" But — will — Venice — be — saved ? "' 

November 19, 1917 
"It is not saved yet — it is still in great danger. 
But the Italians are making a stand at last on the 
Piave line. To be sure military critics say they cannot 
possibly hold it and must retreat to the Adige. But 
Susan and Gertrude and I say they must hold it, be- 
cause Venice mu^st be saved, so what are the military 
critics to do? 

Oh, if I could only believe that they can hold it! 
Our Canadian troops have won another great vic- 
tory — they have stormed the Passchendaele Ridge ana 
held it in the face of all counter attacks. None of 



it 



WAITING 301 

Qur boys were in the battle — but oh, the casualty list 
of other people's boys! Joe Milgrave was in it but 
came through safe. Miranda had some bad days 
until she got word from him. But it is wonderful 
how Miranda has bloomed out since her marriage. 
She isn't the same girl at all. Even her eyes seem to 
have darkened and deepened — though I suppose that 
is just because they glow with the greater intensity that 
has come to her. She makes her father stand round 
in a perfectly amazing fashion; she runs up the flag 
whenever a yard of trench on the western front is 
taken ; and she comes up regularly to our Junior Red 
Cross; and she does — yes, she does — put on funny 
little * married woman ' airs that are quite killing. But 
she is the only war-bride in the Glen and surely nobody 
need grudge her the satisfaction she gets out of it. 

"The Russian news is bad, too — Kerensky's gov- 
ernment has fallen and Lenine is dictator of Russia. 
Somehow, it is very hard to keep up courage in the 
dull hopelessness of these grey autumn days of sus- 
pense and boding news. But we are beginning to * get 
in a low,' as old Highland Sandy says, over the ap- 
proaching election. Conscription is the real issue at 
stake and it will be the most exciting election we have 
ever had. All the women * who have got de age ' — 
to quote Jo Poirier, and who have husbands, sons and 
brothers at the front, can vote. Oh. if I were only 
twenty-one ! Gertrude and Susan are both furious be- 
cause they can't vote. 

" * It is not fair,' Gertrude says passionately. 
' There is Agnes Carr who can vote because her hus- 
band went. She did everything she could to prevent 
him from going, and now she is going to vote against 



302 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

the Union Government. Yet / have no vote, because 
my man at the front is only my sweetheart and not my 
husband ! ' 

"As for Susan, when she reflects that she cannot 
vote, while a rank old pacifist like Mr. Pryor can — 
and wUl — her comments are sulphurous. 

" I really feel sorry for the Elliots and Crawfords 
and MacAllisters over-harbour. They have always 
lined up in clearly divided camps of Liberal and Con- 
servative, and now they are torn from their moorings 
— I know Fm mixing my metaphors dreadfully — and 
set hopelessly adrift. It will kill some of those old 
Grits to vote for Sir Robert Borden's side — and yet 
they have to because they believe the time has come 
when we must have conscription. And some poor Con- 
servatives who are against conscription must vote for 
Laurier, who always has been anathema to them. 
Some of them ,are taking it terribly hard. Others 
seem to be in much the same attitude as Mrs. Marshall 
Elliott has come to be regarding Church Union. 

" She was up here last night. She doesn't come as 
often as she used to. She is growing too old to walk 
this far — dear old * Miss Cornelia.' I hate to think 
of her growing old — we have always loved her so and 
she has always been so good to us Ingleside young fry. 

" She used to be so bitterly opposed to Church Union. 
But last night, when father told her it was practically 
decided, she said in a resigned tone. 

" * Well, in a world where everything is being rent 
and torn what matters one more rending and tearing? 
Anyhow, compared with Germans even Methodists 
seem attractive to me.' 

" Our Junion R. C goes on quite smoothly, in spite 



V 



WAITING 303 

of the fact that Irene has come back to it — having 
fallen out with the Lowbridge society, I understand. 
She gave me a sweet little jab last meeting — about 
knowing me across the square in Charlottetown * by 
my green velvet hat/ Everybody does know me by 
that detestable and detested hat. This will be my 
fourth season for it. Even mother wanted me to get 
a new one this fall; but I said, *no.' As long as the 
war lasts so long do I wear that velvet hat in 
winter." 

November 23, 1917 
" The Piave line still holds — and General Byng has 
won a splendid victory at Cambrai. I did run up the 
flag for that — but Susan only said * I shall set a kettle 
of water on the kitchen range tonight. I notice little 
Kitchener always has an attack of croup after any 
British victory. I do hope he -has no pro-German 
blood in his veins. Nobody knows much about his 
father's people.* 

"Jims has had a few attacks of croup this fall — 
just the ordinary croup — not that terrible thing he 
had last year. But whatever blood runs in his little 
veins it is good, healthy blood. He is rosy and plump 
and curly and cute ; and he says such funny things and 
asks such comical questions. He likes very much to 
sit in a special chair in the kitchen ; but that is Susan's 
favourite chair, too, and when she wants it, out Jims 
must go. The last time she put him out of it he turned 
around and asked solemnly, *When you are dead, 
Susan, can I sit in that chair?' Susan thought it 
quite dreadful, and I think that was when she began 
to feel anxiety about his possible ancestry. The other 






304 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



night I took Jims with me for a walk down to the 
store. It was the first time he had ever been out so 
late at night, and when he saw the stars he exclaimed, 
' Oh, Willa, see the big moon and all the little moons! ' 
And last Wednesday morning, when he woke up, my | 
little alarm clock had stopped because I had forgotten 
to wind it up. Jims bounded out of his crib and ran 
across to me, his face quite aghast above his little blue 
flannel pajamas. ' The clock is dead,' he gasped, ' oh 
Willa, the clock is dead.' 

" One night he was quite angry with both Susan and 
me because we would not give him something he 
wanted very much. When he said his prayers he 
plumped down wrath fully, and when he came to the 
petition ' Make me a good boy ' he tacked on emphatic- 
ally, ' and please made Willa and Susan good, 'cause 
they're not/ 

" I don't go about quoting Jims' speeches to all I 
meet. That always bores me when other people do it! 
I just enshrine them in this old hotch-potch of a jour- 
nal! 

" This very evening as I put Jims to bed he looked 
up and asked me gravely, ' Why can't yesterday come 
back, Willa?' 

"Oh, why can't it, Jims? That beautiful * yester- 
day ' of dreams and laughter — when our boys v^rere 
home — when Walter and I read and rambled and 
watched new moons and sunsets together in Rainbow 
Valley. If it could just come back! But the yester- 
days never come back, little Jims — and the todays are 
dark with clouds — and we dare not think about the 
tomorrows." 



k 



WAITING 305 

December nth, 19 17 

" Wonderful news came today. The British troops 
captured Jerusalem yesterday. We ran up the flag 
and some of Gertrude's old sparkle came back to her 
for a moment. " * After all/ she said, * it is worth 
while to live in the days which see the object of the 
Crusades attained. The ghosts of all the old Cru- 
saders must have crowded the walls of Jerusalem last 
night, with Coeur-de-lion at their head.' 

" Susan had cause for satisfaction also. 

" * I am so thankful I can pronounce Jerusalem and 
Hebron,' she said. * They give me a real comfortable 
feeling after Przemysl and Brest-Litovsk ! Well, we 
have got the Turks on the run, at least, and Venice is 
safe and Lord Lansdowne is not to be taken seriously; 
and I see no reason why we should be downhearted.' 

" Jerusalem ! The * meteor flag of England ' floats 
over you — the Crescent is gone. How Walter would 
have thrilled over that ! " 

December i8th, 19 17 
"Yesterday the election came off. In the evening 
mother and Susan and Gertrude and I foregathered in 
the living room and waited in breathless suspense, fa- 
ther having gone down to the village. We had no way 
of hearing the news, for Carter Flagg's store is not on 
our line, and when we tried to get it Central always 
answered that the line ' was busy ' — as no doubt it was, 
for everybody for miles around was trying to get Car- 
ter's store for the same reason we were. 

" About ten o'clock Gertrude went to the 'phone and 
happened to catch someone from over-harbour talking 



3o6 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

to Carter Flagg. Gertrude shamelessly listened in and 
got for her comforting what eaves-droppers are 
proverbially supposed to get — to wit, unpleasant 
hearing ; the Union Government had ' done nothing ' 
in the West. 

" We looked at each other in dismay. If the Gov- 
ernment had failed to carry the West, it was defeated. 

** * Canada is disgraced in the eyes of the world,' 
said Gertrude bitterly. 

" * If everybody was like the Mark Crawfords over- 
harbour this would not have happened/ groaned Susan. 
' They locked their Uncle up in the barn this morning 
and would not let him out until he promised to vote 
Union. That is what I call effective argument, Mrs. 
Dr. dear.' 

" Gertrude and I couldn't rest at all after that. We 
walked the floor until our legs gave out and we had to 
sit down perforce. Mother knitted away as steadily 
as clockwork and pretended to be calm and serene — 
pretended so well that we were all deceived and envious 
until next day, when I caught her ravelling out four 
inches of her sock. She had knit that far past where 
the heel should have begun ! 

" It was twelve before father came home. He stood 
in the doorway and looked at us and we looked at him. 
We did not dare ask him what the news was. Then 
he said that it was Laurier who had * done nothing ' in 
the West, and that the Union Government was in with 
a big majority. Gertrude clapped her hands. I 
wanted to laugh and cry, mother's eyes flashed with 
their old-time starriness and Susan emitted a queer 
sound between a gasp and a whoop. 

" * This will not comfort the Kaiser much,' she said. 



WAITING 307 

"Then we went to bed, but were too excited to 
sleep. Really, as Susan said solemnly this morning, 
' Mrs. Dr. dear, I think politics are too strenuous for 
women.' " 

December 31st, 19 17 
" Our fourth War Christmas is over. We are try- 
ing to gather up some courage wherewith to face an- 
other year of it. Germany has, for the most part, been 
victorious all summer. And now they say she has all 
her troops from the Russian front ready for a *big 
push ' in the spring. Sometimes it seems to me that 
we just cannot live through the winter waiting for 
that. 

" I had a great batch of letters from overseas this 
week. Shirley is at the front now, too, and writes 
about it all as coolly and matter-of-factly as he used 
to write of football at Queen's. Carl wrote that it had 
been raining for weeks and that nights in the trenches 
always make him think of the night of long ago when 
he did penance in the graveyard for running away from 
Henry Warren's ghost. Carl's letters are always full 
of jokes and bits of fun. They had a great rat-hunt 
the night before he wrote — spearing rats with their 
bayonets — and he got the best bag and won the prize. 
He has a tame rat that knows him and sleeps in his 
pocket at night. Rats don't worry Carl as they do 
some people — he was always chummy with all little 
beasts. He says he is making a study of the habits of 
the trench rat and means to write a treatise on it some 
day that will make him famous. 

** Ken wrote a short letter. His letters are all rather 
short now — and he doesn't often slip in those dear 



3o8 RILLA OF INGLESmE 

little sudden sentences I love so much. Sometimes I 
think he has forgotten all about the night he was here 
to say good-bye — and then there will be just a line or 
a word that makes me think he remembers and always 
'will remember. For instance today's letter hadn't a 
thing in it that mightn't have been written to any girl, 
except that he signed himself ' Your Kenneth/ instead 
of ' Yours, Kenneth/ as he usually does. Now, did 
he leave that ' s ' off intentionally or was it only ca^^ 
lessness? I shall lie awake half the night wondering. 
He is a captain now. I am glad and proud — and yet 
* Captain Ford ' sounds so horribly far away and high 
up. * Ken ' and * Captain Ford ' seem like two differ- 
ent persons. I tnay be practically engaged to Ken — 
mother's opinion on that point is my stay and bulwark 
— but I can't be to ' Captain Ford ! ' 

" And Jem is a lieutenant now — won his promotion 
on the field. He sent me a snap-shot, taken in his new 
uniform. He looked thin and old — old — my boy- 
brother Jem. I can't forget mother's face when I 
showed it to her. ' That — my little Jem, — the baby 
of the old House of Dreams? ' was all she said. 

" There was a letter from Faith, too. She is doing 
V. A. D. work in England and writes hopefully and 
brightly. I think she is almost happy — she saw Jem 
on his last leave and she is so near him she could go to 
him, if he were wounded. That means so much to her. 
Oh, if I were only with her! But my work is here at 
home. I know Walter wouldn't have wanted me to 
leave mother and in everything I try to ' keep faith ' 
with him, even to the little details of daily life. Wal- 
ter died for Canada — I must live for her. That is 
what he asked me to do." 



WAITING 309 

January 28th, 19 18 

" * I shall anchor my storm-tossed soul to the British 
fleet and make a batch of bran biscuits/ said Susan to- 
day to Cousin Sophia, who had come in with some 
weird tale of a new and all-conquering submarine, just 
launched by Germany. But Susan is a somewhat dis- 
gruntled woman at present, owing to the regulations 
regarding cookery. Her loyalty to the Union Govern- 
ment is being sorely tried. It surmounted the first 
strain gallantly. When the order about flour came 
Susan said, quite cheerfully, 

" * I am an old dog to be learning new tricks, but I 
shall learn to make war bread if it will help defeat the 
Huns.' 

" But the later suggestions went against Susan's 
grain. Had it not been for father's decree I think she 
would have snapped her fingers at Sir Robert Borden. 

" * Talk about trying to make bricks without straw, 
Mrs. Dr. dear! How am I to make a cake without 
butter or sugar ? It cannot be done — not cake that is 
cake. Of course one can make a slab, Mrs. Dr. dear. 
And we cannot even camooflash it with a little icing! 
To think that I should have lived to see the day when a 
government at Ottawa should step into my kitchen and 
put me on rations ! ' 

" Susan would give the last drop of her blood for 
her * king and country/ but to surrender her beloved 
recipes is a very different and much more serious 
matter. 

" I had letters from Nan and Di too — or rather 
notes. They are too busy to write letters, for exams 
are looming up. They will graduate in Arts this 
spring. I am evidently to be the dunce of the family. 



310 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

But somehow I never had any hankering for a college 
course, and even now it doesn't appeal to me. Vm 
afraid I'm rather devoid of ambition. There is only 
one thing I really want to be — and I don't know if 
I'll ever be it or not If not — I don't want to be any- 
thing. But I shan't write it down. It is all right to 
think it ; but, as Cousin Sophia would say, it might be 
brazen to write it down. 

"I unll write it down. I won't be cowed by the 
conventions and Cousin Sophia I I want to be Kenneth 
Ford's wife! There, now! 

" I've just looked in the glass, and I hadn't the sign 
of a blush on my face. I suppose I'm not a properly 
constructed damsel at all. 

" I was down to see little Dog Monday today. He 
has grown quite stiff and rheumatic but there he sat, 
waiting for the train. He thumped his tail and looked 
pleadingly into my eyes. * When will Jem come ? ' he 
seemed to say. Oh, Dog Monday, there is no answer 
to that question ; and there is, as yet, no answer to the 
other which we are all constantly asking ' What will 
happen when Germany strikes again on the western 
front — her one great, last blow for victory 1 " 



it € 



March ist, 191 8 
What will spring bring?' Gertrude said today. 
* I dread it as I never dreaded spring before. Do you 
suppose there will ever again come a time when life 
will be free from fear? For almost four years we 
have lain down with fear and risen up with it. It has 
been the unbidden guest at every meal, the unwelcome 
companion at every gathering.' 



WAITING 31 L 

" * Hindenburg says he will be in Paris on April 
first/ sighed Cousin Sophia. 

" * Hindenburg ! ' There is no power in pen and 
ink to express the contempt which Susan infused into 
that name. * Has he forgotten what day the first of 
ApriL is ? ' 

'* * Hindenburg has kept his word hitherto/ said 
Gertrude, as gloomily as Cousin Sophia herself could 
have said it. 

" * Yes, fighting against Russians and Roumanians/ 
retorted Susan. 'Wait you till he comes up against 
the British and French, not to speak of the Yankees, 
who are getting there as fast as they can and will no 
doubt give a good account of themselves/ 

" * You said just the same thing before Mons, 
Susan,' I reminded her. 

" * Hindenburg says he will spend a million lives to 
break the Allied front,' said Gertrude. *At such a 
price he must purchase some successes and how can we 
live through them, even if he is baffled in the end. 
These past two months when we have been crouching 
and waiting for the blow to fall have seemed as long as 
all the preceding months of the war put together. I 
work all day feverishly and waken at three o'clock at 
night to wonder if the iron legions have struck at last 
I wish there was no such hour as three o'clock at 
night. It is then I see Hindenburg in Paris and Ger- 
many triumphant. I never see her so at any other 
time than that accursed hour.' 

" Susan looked dubious over Gertrude's adjective, 
but evidently concluded that the * a ' saved the situa- 
tion. 



312 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" * I wish It were possible to take some magic draught 
and go to sleep for the next three months — and then 
waken to find Armageddon over/ said mother, almost 
impatiently. 

'' It is not often that mother slumps into a wish like 
that — or at least the verbal expression of it. Mother 
has changed a great deal since that terrible day in Sep- 
tember when we knew that Walter would not come 
back ; but she has always been brave and patient. Now 
it just seemed as if even she had reached the limit of 
her endurance. 

" Susan went over to mother and touched her 
shoulder. 

'* ' Do not you be frightened or downhearted, Mrs. 
Dr. dear/ she said gently. * I felt somewhat that way 
myself last night, and I rose from my bed and lighted 
my lamp and opened my Bible ; and what do you think 
was the first verse my eyes lighted upon? It was 
* And they shall fight against thee but they shall not 
prevail against thee, for I am with thee, saith the Lord 
of Hosts, to deliver thee/ I am not gifted in the way 
of dreaming, as Miss Oliver is, but I knew then and 
there, Mrs. Dr. dear, that it was a manifest leading, 
and that Hindenburg will never see Paris. So I read 
no further but went back to my bed, and I did not 
waken at three o'clock or any other hour before 
morning.* 

" I say that verse Susan read over and over again 
to myself. The Lord of Hosts is with us — and the 
spirits of all just men made perfect — and even the le- 
gions and guns that Germany is massing on the west- 
ern front must break against such a barrier. This is in 
certain uplifted moments; but when other moments 



WAITING 313 

come I feel, like Gertrude, that I cannot endure any 
longer this awful and ominous hush before the coming 
storm." 



a 



March 23rd, 19 17 
Armageddon has begun! — ' the last great fight of 
all ! ' Is it, I wonder ? Yesterday I went down to the 
Post Office for the mail. It was a dull, bitter day. 
The snow was gone but the grey, lifeless ground was 
frozen hard and a biting wind was blowing. The 
whole Glen landscape was ugly and hopeless. 

" Then I got the paper with its big black headlines. 
Germany struck on the twenty-first. She makes big 
claims of guns and prisoners taken. General Haig 
reports that * severe fighting continues.' I don't like 
the sound of that last expression. 

" We all find we cannot do any work that requires 
concentration of thought. So we all knit furiously, 
because we can do that mechanically. At least the 
dreadful waiting is over — the horrible wondering 
where and when the blow will fall. It has fallen — 
but they shall not prevail against us ! 

*' Oh, what is happening on the western front to-- 
night as I write this, sitting here in my room with my 
journal before me ? Jims is asleep in his crib and the 
wind is wailing around the window; over my desk 
hangs Walter's picture, looking at me with his beauti- 
ful deep eyes; the Mona Lisa he gave me the last 
Christmas he was home hangs on one side of it, and 
on the other a framed copy of ' The Piper.' It seems 
to me that I can hear Walter's voice repeating it — 
that little poem into which he put his soul, and which 
will therefore live forever, carrying Walter's name on 



314 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

through the future of our land. Everything about me 
is calm and peaceful and * homey/ Walter seems 
very near me — if I could just sweep aside the thin 
wavering little veil that hangs between, I could see 
him — just as he saw the Pied Piper the night before 
Courcelette. 

" Over there in France tonight — does the line 
hold? " 



CHAPTER XXVIII 



Black Sunday 






IN March of the year of grace 1918 there was one 
week into which must have crowded more of sear- 
ing human agony than any seven days had ever held 
before in the history of the world. And in that week 
there was one day when all humanity seemed nailed to 
the cross ; on that day the whole planet must have been 
agroan with universal convulsion; everywhere the 
hearts of men were failing them for fear. 

It dawned calmly and coldly and grayly at Ingle- 
side. Mrs. Blythe and Rilla and Miss Oliver made 
ready for church in a suspense tempered by hope and 
confidence. The doctor was away, having been sum- 
moned during the wee sma's to the Marwood house- 
hold in the Upper Glen, where a little war-bride was 
fighting gallantly on her own battle-ground to give 
life, not death, to the world. Susan announced that 
she meant to stay home that morning — a rare decision 
for Susan. 



BLACK SUNDAY 315 

" But I would rather not go to church this morn- 
ing, Mrs. Dr. dear," she explained. ** If Whiskers-on- 
the-moon were there and I saw him looking holy and 
pleased, as he always Iboks when he thinks the Huns 
are winning, I fear I would lose my patience and my 
sense of decorum and hwrl a Bible or hymn-book at 
him, thereby disgracing myself and the sacred edifice. 
No, Mrs. Dr. dear I shall stay home from Church till 
the tide turns and pray hard here." 

" I think I might as well stay home, too, for all the 
good church will do me today,'* Miss Oliver said to 
Rilla, as they walked down the hard-frozen red road 
to the church. " I can think of nothing but the ques- 
tion, ' Does the line still hold? ' " 

" Next Sunday will be Easter," said Rilla. " Will 
it herald death or life to our cause? " 

Mr. Meredith preached that morning from the text, 
" He that endureth to the end shall be saved," and hope 
and confidence rang through his inspiring sentences. 
Rilla, looking up at the memorial tablet on the wall 
above their pew, "sacred to the memory of Walter 
Cuthbert Blythe," felt herself lifted out of her dread 
and filled anew with courage. Walter could not have 
laid down his life for naught. His had been the gift 
of prophetic vision and he had foreseen victory. She 
would cling to that belief — the line would hold. 

In this renewed mood she walked home from church 
almost gaily. The others, too, were hopeful,, and all 
went smiling into Ingleside. There was no one in the 
living room, save Jims, who had fallen asleep on the 
sofa, and Doc, who sat " hushed in grim repose " on 
the hearth-rug, looking very Hydeish indeed. No one 
was in the dining room either, — and, stranger still, no 



3i6 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

dinner was on the table, which was not even set. 
Where was Susan ? 

" Can she have been taken ill ? " exclaimed Mrs. 
Blythe anxiously. " I thought it strange that she did 
not want to go to church this morning. 

The kitchen door opened and Susan appeared on the 
threshold with such a ghastly face that Mrs. Blythe 
cried out in sudden panic, 

" Susan, what is it ? " 

" The British line is broken and the German shells 
are falling on Paris," said Susan dully. 

The three women stared at each other, stricken. 

** It's not true — it's not,*^ gasped Rilla. 

" The thing would be — ridiculous," said Gertrude 
Oliver — and then she laughed horribly. 

*' Susan, who told you this — when did the news 
come ? " asked Mrs. Blythe. 

" I got it over the long-distance 'phone from Char- 
lottetown half an hour ago," said Susan. " The news 
came to town late last night. It was Dr. Holland 
'phoned it out and he said it was only too true. Since 
then I have done nothing, Mrs. Dr. dear. I am very 
sorry dinner is not ready. It is the first time I have 
been so remiss. If you will be patient I will soon have 
something for you to eat. But I am afraid I let the 
potatoes burn." 

" Dinner! Nobody wants any dinner, Susan," said 
Mrs. Blythe wildly. " Oh, this thing is unbelievable 
— it must be a nightmare." 

** Paris is lost — France is lost — the war is lost," 
gasped Rilla, amid the utter ruins of hope and confi- 
dence and belief. 

"Oh God — oh God," moaned Gertrude Oliver, 



BLACK SUNDAY 317 

walking al?out the room and wringing her hands. 
"Oh — God!'' 

Nothing else — no other words — nothing but that 
age-old plea — the old, old cry of supreme agony and 
appeal, from the human heart whose every human staff 
has failed it. 

" Is God dead ? " asked a startled little voice from 
the doorway of the living room. Jims stood there, 
flushed from sleep, his big brown eyes filled with dread. 
'' Oh, Willa — oh, Willa, is God dead? " 

Miss Oliver stopped walking and exclaiming, and 
stared at Jims, in whose eyes tears of fright were be- 
ginning to gather. Rilla ran to his comforting, while 
Susan bounded up from the chair upon which she had 
dropped. 

" No," she said briskly, with a sudden return of her 
real self. " No, God isn't dead — nor Lloyd George 
either. We were forgetting that, Mrs. Dr. dear. 
Don't cry, little Kitchener. Bad as things are, they 
might be worse. The British line may be broken but 
the British navy is not. Let us tie to that. I will 
take a brace and get up a bite to eat, for strength we 
must have." 

They made a pretence of eating Susan's " bite," but 
it was only a pretence. Nobody at Ingleside ever for- 
got that black afternoon. Gertrude Oliver walked the 
floor — they all walked the- floor ; except Susan, who 
got out her grey war sock. 

" Mrs. Dr. dear, I must knit on Sunday at last. I 
have never dreamed of doing it before for, say what 
might be said, I have considered it was a violation of 
the third commandment. But wliether it is or whether 
it is not I must knit today or I shall go mad." 



3i8 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" Knit if you can, Susan," said Mrs. Blythe rest- 
lessly. "I would knit if I could — but I cannot — I 
cannot." 

** If we could only get fuller information," moaned 
Rilla. " There might be something to encourage us 
— if we knew all." 

"We know that the Germans are shelling Paris," 
said Miss Oliver bitterly. " In that casfe they must 
have smashed through everywhere and be at the very 
gates. No, we have lost — let us face the fact as other 
peoples in the past have had to face it. Other nations, 
with right on their side have given their best and 
bravest — and gone down to defeat in spite of it 
Ours is 

*but one more 
To baffled millions who have gone before.'" 



" I won't give up like that," cried Rilla, her pale face 
suddenly flushing. " I won't despair. We are not 
conquered — no, if Germany overruns all France we 
are not conquered. I am ashamed of myself for this 
hour of despair. You won't see me slump again like 
that. I'm going to ring up town at once and ask for 
particulars." 

But town could not be got. The long-distance 
operator there was submerged by similar calls from 
every part of the distracted country. Rilla finally gave 
up and slipped away to Rainbow Valley. There she 
knelt down on the withered grey grasses in the little 
nook where she and Walter had had their last talk to- 
gether, with her head bowed against the mossy trunk 
of a fallen tree. The sun had broken through the 
black clouds and drenched the valley with a pale golden 






BLACK SUNDAY 319 

splendor. The bells on the Tree Lovers twinkled 
elfinly arid fitfully in the gusty March wind. 

Oh God, give me strength," Rilla whispered. 
Just strength — and courage." Then like a child, 
she clasped her hands together and said, as simply as 
Jims could have done, '^ Please send us better news to- 
morrow." 

She knelt there a long time, and when she went back 
to Ingleside she was calm and resolute. The doctor 
had arrived home, tired but triumphant, little Douglas 
Haig Marwood having made a safe landing on the 
shores of time. Gertrude was still pacing restlessly 
but Mrs. Blythe and Susan had reacted from the shock, 
and Susan was already planning a new line of defence 
for the channel ports. 

" As long as we can hold them/'' she declared, " the 
situation is saved. Paris has really no military sig- 
nificance." 

" Don't," cried Gertrude sharply, as if Susan had 
run something into her. She thought the old worn 
phrase, ' no military significance ' nothing short of 
ghastly mockery under the circumstances, and more ter- 
rible to endure than thg voice of despair would have 
been. 

" I heard up at Marwood's of the line being broken," 
said the doctor, " but this story of the Germans shell- 
ing Paris seems to be rather incredible. Even if they 
broke through they were fifty miles from Paris at the 
nearest point and how could they get their artillery 
close enough to shell -it in so short a time? Depend 
upon it, girls, that part of the message can't be true. 
I'm going to try a long-distance call to town myself." 

The doctor was no more successful than Rilla had 



320 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

been, but his point of view cheered them all a little, 
and helped them through the evening. And at nine 
o'clock a long-distance message came through at last, 
that helped them through the night. 

" The line broke only in one place, before St Quen- I 
tin," said the doctor, as he hung up the receiver, "and 
the British troops are retreating in good order. That's 
not so bad. And as for the shells that are falling on 
Paris, they are coming from a distance of seventy 
miles — from some amazing long-range gun the Ger- 
mans have invented and sprung with the opening of J i^ 
the offensive. That is all the news to date, and Dr. 
Holland says it is reliable." 

" It would have been dreadful news yesterday," said 
Gertrude, " but compared to what we heard this morn- 
ing it is almost like good news. But still," she added, 
trying to smile, " I am afraid I will not sleep ^nuch to- 
night." 

" There is one thing to be thankful for at any rate, 
Miss Oliver, dear," said Susan, "and that is that 
Cousin Sophia did not come in today. I really could 
not have endured her on top of all the rest." 



CHAPTER XXIX 
"Wounded and Missing^' 

KlTTERED but not broken," was the headline in 
Monday's paper, and Susan repeated it over and 
over to herself as she went about her work. The gap 
caused by the St. Quentin disaster had been patched up 



"WOUNDED AND MISSING" 321 

in time, but the Allied line was being pushed relent- 
lessly back from the territory they had purchased in 
1 91 7 with half a million lives. On Wednesday the 
headline was " British and French check Germans *' ; 
but still the retreat went on. Back — and back — and 
back! Where would it end? Would the line break 
again — this time disastrously ? 

On Saturday the headline was " Even Berlin Admits 
Offensive Checked," and for the first time in that ter- 
rible week the Ingleside folks dared to draw a long 
breath. 

" Well, we have got one week over — now for the 
next," said Susan staunchly. 

" I feel like a prisoner on the rack when they stopped 
turning it," Miss Oliver said to Rilla, as they went to 
church on Easter Morning. " But I am not off the 
rack. The torture may begin again at any time." 

" I doubted God last Sunday,' " said Rilla, " but I 
don't doubt Him today. Evil cannot win. Spirit is 
on our side and it is bound to outlast flesh." 

Nevertheless her faith was often tried in the dark 
spring that followed. Armageddon was not, as they 
had hoped, a matter of a few days. It stretched out 
into weeks and months. Again and again Hindenburg 
struck his savage, sudden blows, with alarming, though 
futile success. Again and again the military critics 
declared the situation extremely perilous. Again 
and again Cousin Sophia agreed with the military 
critics. 

"If the Allies go back three miles more the war is 
lost," she wailed. 

" Is the British navy anchored in those three miles? " 
demanded Susan scornfully. 






322 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" It is the opinion of a man who knows all about 
it," said Cousin Sophia solemnly. 

" There is no such person," retorted Susan. '' As 
for the military critics, they do not know one blessed 
thing about it, any more than you or I. They have 
been mistaken times out of number. Why do you al- 
ways look on the dark side, Sophia Crawford ? *' 

Because there ain*t any bright side, Susan Baker." 
Oh. is there not? It is the twentieth of April, and 
Hindy is not in Paris yet, although he said he would 
be there by April first Is that not a bright spot at 
least?" 

" It is my opinion that the Germans will be in Paris 
before very long and more than that, Susan Baker, 
they will be in Canada." 

" Not in this part of it. The Huns shall never set 
foot in Prince Edward Island as long as I can handle a 
pitchfork," declared Susan, looking, and feeling quite 
equal to routing the entire German army single-handed 
" No, Sophia Crawford, to tell you the plain truth I 
am sick and tired of your gloomy predictions. I do 
not deny that some mistakes have been made. The 
Germans would never have got back Passchendaele if 
the Canadians had been left there; and it was bad bus- 
iness trusting to those Portuguese at the Lys River. 
But that is no reason why you or any one should go 
about proclaiming the war is lost. I do not want to 
quarrel with you. least of all at such a time as this, but 
our morale must be kept up, and I am going to speak 
my mind out plainly and tell you that if you cannot 
keep from such croaking your room is better than your 
company." 

Cousin Sophia marched home in high dudgeon to 



" WOUNDED AND MISSING '' ^2^ 

digest her affront, and did not reappear in Susan's 
kitchen for many weeks. Perhaps it was just as well, 
for they were hard weeks, when the Germans continued 
to strike, now here, now there, and seemingly vital 
points fell to them at every blow. And one day in 
early May, when wind and sunshine frolicked in Rain- 
bow Valley and the maple grove was golden-green and 
the harbour all bliie and dimpled and white-capped, the 
news came about Jem. 

There had been a trench raid on the Canadian front 
— a little trench raid so insignificant that it was never 
even mentioned in the dispatches and when it was over 
Lieutenant James Blythe was reported " wounded and 
missing." 

" I think this is even worse than news of his death 
would have been," moaned Rilla through her white lips, 
that night. 

" No — no — * missing ' leaves a little hope, Rilla," 
urged Gertrude Oliver. 

**Yes — torturing, agonized hope that keeps you 
from ever becoming quite resigned to the worst," said 
Rilla. " Oh, Miss Oliver — must we go for weeks and 
months, — not knowing whether Jem is alive or dead ? 
Perhaps we will never know. I — I cannot bear 
it — I cannot. Walter — and now Jem. This will 
kill mother, — look at her face, Miss Oliver, and you 
will see that. And Faith — poor Faith — how can she 
bear it?" 

Gertrude shivered with pain. She looked up at the 
pictures hanging over Rilla's desk and felt a sudden 
hatred of Mona Lisa's endless smile. 

" Will not even this blot it off your face ? " she 
thought savagely. 



324 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

But she said gently, 

" No, it won t kill your mother. She's made of finer 
mettle than that. Besides, she refuses to believe Jem 
is dead ; she will cling to hope and we must all do that. 
Faith, you may be sure, will do it." 

" I cannot," moaned Rilla. " Jem was wounded — 
what chance would he have? Even if the Germans 
found him — we know how they have treated wounded 
prisoners. I wish I could hope. Miss Oliver — it 
would help, I suppose. But hope seems dead in me. 
I can't hope without some reason for it — and there is 



no reason." 



When Miss Oliver had gone to her own room and 
Rilla was lying on her bed in the moonlight, praying 
desperately for a little strength, Susan stepped in like 
a gaunt shadow and sat down beside her. 

" Rilla, dear, do not you worry. Little Jem is not 
dead." 

" Oh, how can you believe that, Susan ? " 

" Because I know. Listen you to me. When that 
word came this morning the first thing I thought of was 
Dog Monday. And tonight, as soon as I got the sup- 
per dishes washed and the bread set, I went right down 
to the station. There was Dog Monday, waiting for 
the night train, just as patient as usual. Now, Rilla 
dear, that trench raid was four days ago — last Mon- 
day — and I said to the station agent, * Can you tell 
me if that dog howled or made any kind of a fuss last 
Monday night?' He thought it over a bit, and then 
he said, *No, he did not.* 'Are you sure?' I said. 
* There's more depends on it than you think ! ' ' Dead 
sure,' he said. * I was up all night last Monday night 
because my mare was sick, and there was never a 



it 



WOUNDED AND MISSING '' 325 



sound out of him. I would have heard it if there had 
been, for the stable door was open all the time and 
his kennel is right across from it ! ' Now, Rilla dear, 
those were the man's very words. And you know how 
that poor little dog howled all night after the battle of 
Courcelette. Yet he did not love Walter as much as 
he loved Jem, If he mourned for Walter like that, 
do you suppose he would sleep sound in his kennel the 
night after Jem had been killed? No, Rilla dear, lit- 
tle Jem iis not dead, and that you may tie to. If he 
were, Dog Monday would have known, just as he 
knew before, and he would not be still waiting for the 
trains." 

It was absurd — and irrational — and impossible. 
But Rilla believed it, for all that ; and Mrs. Blythe be- 
lieved it; and the doctor, though he smiled faintly in 
pretended derision, felt an odd confidence replace his 
first despair; and foolish and absurd or not, they all 
plucked up heart and courage to carry on, just because 
a faithful little dog at the Glen station was still watch- 
ing with unbroken faith for his master to come home. 
Common sense might scorn — incredulity might mut- 
ter " Mere superstition '* — but in their hearts the folk 
of Ingleside stood by their belief that Dog Monday 
knew. 



326 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



CHAPTER XXX 
The Turning of the Tide 

SUSAN was very sorrowful when she saw the 
beautiful old lawn of Ingleside ploughed up that 
spring and planted with potatoes. Yet she made no 
protest, even when her beloved peony bed wras sacri- 
ficed. But when the Government passed the Daylight 
Saving law Susan balked. There was a Higher Power 
than the Union Government, to which Susan owed 
allegiance. 

" Do you think it right to meddle with the arrange- 
ments of the Almighty?" she demanded indignantly 
of the doctor. The doctor, quite unmoved, responded 
that the law must be observed, and the Ingleside clocks 
were moved on accordingly. But the doctor had no 
power over Susan's little alarm. 

" I bought that with my own money, Mrs. Dr. dear,*' 
she said firmly, " and it shall go on God's time and not 
Borden's time." 

Susan got up and went to bed by " God's time,'' and 
regulated her own goings and coming^ by it. She 
served the meals, under protest, by Borden's time, and 
she had to go to church by it, which was the crowning 
injury. But she said her prayers by her own clock, 
and fed the hens by it; so that there was always a 
furtive triumph in her eye when she looked at the 
doctor. She had got the better of him by so much at 
least. 

" Whiskers-on-the-moon is very much delighted 
with this daylight saving business," she told him one 



THE TURNING OF THE TIDE 327 

evening. "Of course he naturally would be, since I 
understand that the Germans invented it. I hear he 
came near losing his entire wheat crop lately. Warren 
Mead's cows broke into the field one day last week — 
it was the very day the Germans captured the Chemang- 
de-dam, which may have been a coincidence or may not 
— and w.ere making fine havoc of it when Mrs. Dick 
Qow happened to see them from her attic window. 
At first she had no intention of letting Mr. Pryor 
know. She told me she just gloated over the sight of 
those cows pasturing on his wheat. She felt it served 
him exactly right. But presently she reflected that the 
wheat crop was a matter of great importance and that 
* save and serve ' meant that those cows must be routed 
out as much as it meant anything. So she went down 
and 'phoned over to Whiskers about the matter. All 
the* thanks she got was that he said something queer 
right out to her. She is not prepared to state that it 
was actually swearing, for you cannot be sure just 
what you hear over the 'phone; but she has her own 
opinion, and so have I, but I will not express it for 
here comes Mr. Meredith, and Whiskers is one of his 
elders, so we must be discreet." 

"Are you looking for the new star?" asked Mr. 
Meredith, joining Miss Oliver and Rilla, who were 
standing among the blossoming potatoes gazing sky- 
ward. 

" Yes — we have found it — see, it is just above the 
tip of that tallest old pine." 

" It's wonderful to be looking at something that 
happened three thousand years ago, isn't it?" said 
Rilla. " That is when astronomers think the collision 
took place which produced this new star. It makes 



328 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

me feel horribly insignificant," she added tinder her 
breath. 

" Even this event cannot dwarf into what may be 
the proper perspective in star systems the fact that the 
Germans are again only one leap from Paris," said 
Gertrude restlessly. 

" I think I would like to have been an astronomer," 
said Mr. Meredith dreamily, gazing at the star. 

*' There must be a strange pleasure in it," agreed 
Miss Oliver, "an unearthly pleasure, in more senses 
than one. I would like to have a few astronomers for 
my friends." 

" Fancy talking the gossip of the hosts of heaven," 
laughed Rilla. 

** I wonder if astronomers feel a very deep interest 
in earthly affairs?" said the doctor. "Perhaps stu- 
dents of the canals of Mars would not be so keenly 
sensitive to the significance of a few yards of trenches J 
lost or won on the western front." 

" I have read somewhere," said Mr. Meredith, " that 
Ernest Renan wrote one of his books during the siege 
of Paris in 1870 and * enjoyed the writing of it very 
much.' I suppose one would call him a philosopher." 

" I have read also," said Miss Oliver, " that shortly 
before his death he said that his only regret in dying 
was that he must die before he had seen what that 
'extremely interesting young man, the German Em- 
peror,' would do in his life. If Ernest Renan 
* walked ' today and saw what that interesting young 
man had done to his beloved France, not to speak of 
the world, I wonder if his mental detachment would be 
as complete as it was in 1870." 



THE TURNING OF THE TIDE 329 

" I wonder where Jem is tonight," thought Rilla, in 
a sudden bitter inrush of remembrance. 

It was over a month since the news had come about 
Jem. Nothing had been discovered concerning him, in 
spite of all efforts. Two or three letters had come 
from him, written before the trench raid, and since 
then there had been only unbroken silence. Now the 
Germans were again at the Marne, pressing nearer and 
nearer Paris; now rumours were coming of another 
Austrian offensive against the Piave line. Rilla turned 
away from the new star, sick at heart. It was one of 
the moments when hope and courage failed her utterly, 

— when it seemed impossible to go on even one more 
day. If only they knew what had happened to Jem — 
you can face anything you know. But a beleaguere- 
ment of fear and doubt and suspense is a hard thing 
for the morale. Surely, if Jem were alive, -some word 
would have come through. He must be dead. Only 

— they would never know — they could never be quite 
sure ; and Dog Monday would wait for the train until 
he died of old age. Monday was only a poor, faith- 
ful, rheumatic little dog, who knew nothing more of 
his master's fate than they did. 

Rilla had a " white night " and did not fall asleep 
until late. When she wakened Gertrude Oliver was 
sitting at her window leaning out to meet the silver 
mystery of the dawn. Her clever, striking profile, 
with the masses of black hair behind it, came out 
clearly against the pallid gold of the eastern sky. Rilla 
remembered Jem's admiration of the curve of Miss 
Oliver's brow and chin, and she shuddered. Every- 
thing that reminded her of Jem was beginning to give 



330 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

intolerable pain. Walter's death had inflicted on her 
heart a terrible wound. But it had been a clean wound 
and had healed slowly, as such wounds do, though the 
scar must remain forever. But the torture of Jem's 
disappearance was another thing: there was a poison 
in it that kept it from healing. The alternations of 
hope and despair, the endless watching each day for the 
letter that never came — that might never come — the 
newspaper tales of ill-usage of prisoners — the bitter 
wonder as to Jem's wound — all were increasingly 
hard to bear. 

Gertrude Oliver turned her head. There was an odd 
brilliancy in her eyes. 

" Rilla, I've had another dream." 

" Oh, no — no," cried Rilla, shrinking. Miss 
Oliver's dreams had always foretold coming disaster. 

" Rilla, it was a good dream. Listen — I dreamed 
just as I did four years ago, that I stood on the ve- 
randa steps and looked down the Glen. And it was 
still covered by waves that lapped about my feet 
But as I looked the waves began to ebb — and they 
ebbed as swiftly as, four years ago, they rolled in — 
ebbed out and out, to the gulf; and the Glen lay be- 
fore me, beautiful and green, with a rainbow span- 
ning Rainbow Valley — a rainbow of such splendid 
colour that it dazzled me — and I woke. Rilla — 
Rilla Blythe — the tide has turned." 

" I wish I could believe it," sighed Rilla. 



ti t 



Sooth was my prophecy of fear 
Believe it when it augurs cheer,' " 

quoted Gertrude, almost gaily. " I tell you I have no 
doubt." 



THE TURNING OF THE TIDE 331 

Yet, in spite of the great Italian victory at the 
Piave that came a few days later, she had doubt many 
a time in the hard month that followed ; and when in 
mid-July the Germans crossed the Mame again despair 
came sickeningly. It was idle, they all felt, to hope 
that the miracle of the Mame would be repeated. 

But it was: again, as in 1914, the tide turned at the 
Mame. The French and the American troops struck 
their sudden smashing blow on the exposed flank of 
the enemy and, with the almost inconceivable rapidity 
of a dream, the whole aspect of the war changed. 

" The Allies have won two tremendous victories," 
said the doctor on the twentieth of July. 

" It is the beginning of the end — I feel it — I feel 
it," said Mrs. Blythe. 

" Thank God,'* said Susan, folding her trembling 
old hands. Then she added, under her breath, " but 
it won't bring our boys back." 

Nevertheless she went out and ran up the flag, for 
the first time since the fall of Jerusalem. As it caught 
the breeze and swelled gallantly out above her, Susan 
lifted her hand and saluted it, as she had seen Shirley 
do. " We've all given something to keep you flying," 
she said, " Four hundred thousand of our boys gone 
overseas — fifty thousand of them killed. But — you 
are worth it ! " The wind whipped her grey hair about 
her face and the gingham apron that shrouded her 
from head to foot was cut on lines of economy, not 
of grace; yet, somehow, just then Susan made an im- 
posing figure. She was one of the women — courage- 
ous, unquailing, patient, heroic — who had made vic- 
tory possible. In her, they all saluted the symbol for 
which their dearest had fought. Something of this 



332 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

was in the doctor's mind as he watched her from the 
door. 

" Susan," he said, when she turned to come in, 
** from first to last of this business you have been a 
brick !'* 



CHAPTER XXXI 
Mrs. Matilda Pitman 

RILLA and Jims were standing on the rear plat- 
form of their car when the train stopped at the 
little Millward siding. The August evening was so 
hot and close that the crowded cars were stifling. No- 
body ever knew just why trains stopped at Mill- 
ward siding. Nobody was ever known to get off there 
or get on. There was only one house nearer to it than 
four miles, and it was surrounded by acres of blue- 
berry barrens and scrub spruce trees. 

Rilla was on her way into Charlottetown to spend 
the night with a friend and the next day in Red Cross 
shopping; she had taken Jims with her, partly because 
she did not want Susan or her mother to be bothered 
with his care, partly because of a hungry desire in her 
heart to have as much of him as she could before she 
might have to give him up forever. James Ander- 
son had written to her not long before this; he was 
wounded and in the hospital ; he would not be able to 
go back to the front and as soon as he was able he 
would be coming home for Jims. 



MRS. MATILDA PITMAN 333 

Rilla was heavy-hearted over this, and worried also. 
She loved Jims dearly and would feel deeply giving 
him up in any case; but if Jim Anderson were a dif- 
ferent sort of a man, with a proper home for the child, 
it would not be so bad. But to give Jims up to a 
roving, shiftless, irresponsible father, however kind 
and good-hearted he might be — and she knew Jim 
Anderson was kind and good-hearted enough — was a 
bitter prospect to Rilla. It was not even likely Ander- 
son would stay in the Glen ; he had no ties there now ; 
he might even go back to England. She might never 
see her dear, sunshiny, carefully-brought-up little Jims 
again. With such a father what might his fate be? 
Rilla meant to beg Jim Anderson to leave him with her, 
but, from his letter, she had not much hope that he 
would. 

"If he would only stay in the Glen, where I could 
keep an eye on Jims and have him often with me I 
wouldn't feel so worried over it," she reflected. " But 
I feel sure he won't — and Jims will never have any 
chance. And he is such a bright little chap — he has 
ambition, wherever he got it — and he isn't lazy. But 
his father will never have a cent to give him any edu- 
cation or start in life. Jims, my little war baby, what- 
ever is going to become of you? '' 

Jims was not in the least concerned over what was 
to become of him. He was gleefully watching the 
antics of a striped chipmunk that was frisking over 
the roof of the little siding. As the train pulled out 
Jims leaned eagerly forward for a last look at Chippy, 
pulling his hand from Rilla's. Rilla was so engrossed 
in wondering what was to become of Jims in the future 
that she forgot to take notice of what was happening 



334 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

to him in the present. What did happen was that 
Jims lost his balance, shot headlong down the steps, 
hurtled across the little siding platform, and landed in 
a clump of bracken fern on the other side. 

Rilla shrieked and lost her head. She sprang down 
the steps and jumped off the train. 

Fortunately, the train was still going at a compara- 
tively slow speed; fortunately also, Rilla retained 
enough sense to jump the way it was going ; neverthe- 
less, she fell and sprawled helplessly down the em- 
bankment, landing in a ditch full of a rank growth of 
golden-rod and fireweed. 

Nobody had seen what had happened and the train 
whisked briskly away around a curve in the barrens. 
Rilla picked herself up, dizzy but unhurt, scrambled 
out of the ditch, and flew wildly across the platform, 
expecting to find Jims dead or broken in pieces. But 
Jims, except for a few bruises, and a big fright, was 
quite uninjured. He was so badly scared that he 
didn't even cry, but Rilla, when she found that he was 
safe and sound, burst into tears and sobbed wildly. 

" Nasty old twain," remarked Jims in disgust. 
" And nasty old God," he added, with a scowl at the 
heavens. 

A laugh broke into Rilla's sobbing, producing some- 
thing very like what her father would have called 
hysterics. But she caught herself up before the hys- 
teria could conquer her. 

" Rilla Blythe. I'm ashamed of you. Pull yourself 
together immediately. Jims, you shouldn't have said 
anything like that." 

" Gk)d f rew me off the twain," declared Jims de- 



MRS. MATILDA PITMAN 335 

fiantly. '^Somebody frew me; you didn't frow me; 
so it was God." 

" No, it wasn't. You fell because you let go of 
my hand and bent too far forward. I told you not 
to do that. So that it was your own fault." 

Jims looked to see if she meant it; then glanced up 
at the sky again. 

" Excuse me, then, God," he remarked airily. 

Rilla scanned the sky also ; she did not like its ap- 
pearance; a heavy thundercloud was rising in the 
north-west. What in the world was to be done? 
There was no other train that night, since the nine 
o'clock special ran only on Saturdays. Would it be 
possible for them to reach Hannah Brewster's house, 
two miles away, before the storm broke? Rilla 
thought she could do it alone easily enough, but with 
Jims it was another matter. Were his little legs good 
for it? 

" We've got to try it," said Rilla desperately. " We 
might stay in the siding until the thunderstorm is over ; 
but it may keep on raining all night and anyway it will 
be pitch dark. If we can get to Hannah's she will 
keep us all night." 

Hannah Brewster, when she had been Hannah 
Crawford, had lived in the Glen and gone to school 
with Rilla. They had been good friends then, though 
Hannah had been three years the older. She had mar- 
ried very young and had gone to live in Millward. 
What with hard work and babies and a ne'er-do-weel 
husband, her life had not been an easy one, and Han- 
nah seldom revisited her old home. Rilla had visited 
her once soon after her marriage, but had not seen 



336 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

her or even heard of her for years ; she knew, however, 
that she and Jims would find welcome and harbourage 
in any house where rosy-faced, open-hearted, generous 
Hannah lived. 

For the first mile they got on very well but the sec- 
ond one was harder. The road, seldom used, was 
rough and deep-rutted. Jims grew so tired that Rilla 
had to carry him for the last quarter. She reached 
the Brewster house, almost exhausted, and dropped 
Jims on the walk with a sigh of thankfulness. The 
sky was black with clouds ; the first heavy drops were 
beginning to fall ; and the rumble of thunder was grow- 
ing very loud. Then she made an unpleasant discov- 
ery. The blinds were all down and the doors locked. 
Evidently the Brewsters were not at home. Rilla ran 
to the little bam. It, too, was locked. No other ref- 
uge presented itself. The bare whitewashed little 
house had not even a veranda or porch. 

It was almost dark now and her plight seemed des- 
perate. 

** I'm going to get in if I have to break a window,'* 
said Rilla resolutely. " Hannah would want me to 
do that. She'd never get over it if she heard I came 
to her house for refuge in a thunderstorm and couldn't 
get in." 

Luckily she did not have to go to the length of 
actual housebreaking. The kitchen window went up 
quite easily. Rilla lifted Jims in and scrambled 
through herself, just as the storm broke in good ear- 
nest. 

" Oh, see all the little pieces of thunder," cried Jims 
in delight, as the hail danced in after them. Rilla shut 
the window and with some difficulty found and lighted 






MRS. MATILDA PITMAN 337 

a lamp. They were in a very snug little kitchen. 
Opening off it on one side was a trim, nicely furnished 
parlour, and on the other a pantry, which proved to be 
well stocked, 

I'm going to make myself at home," said Rilla. 

I know that is just what Hannah would want me to 
do. I'll get a little snack for Jims and me, and then 
if the rain continues and nobody comes home I'll just 
go upstairs to the spare room and go to bed. There is 
nothing like acting sensibly in an emergency. If I had 
not been a goose when I saw Jims fall off the train I'd 
have rushed back into the car and got some one to 
stop it. Then I wouldn't have been in this scrape. 
Since I am in it I'll make the best of it. 

" This house," she added, looking around, " is fixed 
up much nicer than when I was here before. Of 
course Hannah and Ted were just beginning house- 
keeping then. But somehow I've had the idea that Ted 
hasn't been very prosperous. He must have done bet- 
ter than I've been led to believe, when they can afford 
furniture like this. I'm awfully glad for Hannah's 
sake." 

The thunderstorm passed, but the rain continued to 
fall heavily. At eleven o'clock Rilla decided that no- 
body was coming home* Jims had fallen asleep on the 
sofa; she carried him up to the spare room and put 
him to bed. Then she undressed, put on a nightgown 
she found in the washstand drawer, and scrambled 
sleepily in between very nice lavender-scented sheets. 
She was so tired, after her adventures and exertions, 
that not even the oddity of her situation could keep her 
awake ; she was sound asleep in a few minutes. 

Rilla slept until eight o'clock the next morning and 



338 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

then wakened with startling suddenness. Somebody 
was saying in a harsh, gruff voice, 

" Here, you two, wake up. I want to know what 
this means." 

Rilla did wake up, promptly and effectually. She 
had never in all her life wakened up so thoroughly be- 
fore. Standing in the room were three people, one 
of them a man, who were absolute strangers to her. 
The man was a big fellow with a bushy black beard 
and an angry scowl. Beside him was a woman — a 
tall, thin, angular person, with violently red hair and 
an indescribable hat. She looked even crosser and 
more amazed than the man, if that were possible. In 
the background was another woman- — a tiny old lady 
who must have been at least eighty. She was, in 
spite of her tinyness, a very striking-looking person- 
age; she was dressed in unrelieved black, had snow- 
white hair, a dead-white face, and snapping, vivid, 
coal-black eyes. She looked as amazed as the other 
two, but Rilla realized that she didn't look cross. 

Rilla also was realizing that something was wrong 
— fearfully wrong. Then the man said, more gruffly 
than ever, 

" Come now. Who are you and what business have 
you here ? " 

Rilla raised herself on one elbow, looking and feel- 
ing hopelessly bewildered and foolish. She heard the 
old black-and-white lady in the background chuckle 
to herself. ''She must be real,'' Rilla thought, **I 
can't be dreaming her," Aloud she gasped. 
Isn't this Theodore Brewster's place?'* 
No," said the big woman, speaking for the first 






MRS. MATILDA PITMAN 339 

time, " this place belongs to us. We bought it from 
the Brewsters last fall. They moved to Greenvale. 
Our name is Chapley." 

Poor RiUa fell back on her pillow, quite overcome. 

" I beg your pardon," she said. "I — I — thought 
the Brewsters lived here. Mrs. Brewster is a friend 
of mine. I am Rilla Ely the, — Dr. Blythe's daughter 
from Glen St. Mary. I — I was going to town with 
my — my — th"is little boy — and he fell off the train 
— and I jumped off after him — and nobody knew of 
it. I knew we couldn't get home last night and a 
storm was coming up — so we came here and when 
we found nobody at home — we — we — just got in 
through the window and — and — made ourselves at 
home." 

So it seems," said the woman sarcastically. 

A likely story," said the man. 

We weren't bom yesterday/' added the woman. 

Madam Black-and- White didn't say anything; but 
when the other two had made their pretty speeches she 
doubled up in a silent convulsion of mirth, shaking her 
head from side to side and beating the air with her 
hands. 

Rilla, stung by the disagreeable attitude of the 
Chapleys, regained her self-possession and lost her 
temper. She sat up in bed and said in her haughtiest 
voice, "^ 

" I do not know when you were bom, or where, but 
it must have been somewhere where very peculiar man- 
ners were taught. If you will have the decency to 
leave my room — er — this room — until I can get up 
and dress I shall not transgress upon your hospital- 



er 

n 
ii 



it 
tt 



340 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ity" — Rilla was killingly sarcastic — "any longer. 
And I shall pay you amply for the food we have eaten 
and the night's lodging I have taken." 

The black-and-white apparition went through the 
motion of clapping her hands, but not a sound did she 
make. Perhaps Mr. Chapley was cowed by Rilla's 
tone — or perhaps he was appeased at the prospect of 
payment ; at all events, he spoke more civilly. 

Well, that's fair. If you pay up it's all right." 
She shall do no such thing as pay you," said 
Madam Black-and- White in a surprisingly clear, reso- 
lute, authoritative tone of voice. "If you haven't got 
any shame for yourself, Robert Chapley, you've got a 
mother-in-law who can be ashamed for you. No 
strangers shall be charged for food and lodging in any 
house where Mrs. Matilda Pitman lives. Remember 
that, though I may have come down in the world, I 
haven't quite forgot all decency for all that. I knew 
you was a skinflint when Amelia married you, and 
you've made her as bad as yourself. But Mrs. Matilda 
Pitman has been boss for a long time, and Mrs. Ma- 
tilda Pitman will remain boss. Here you, Robert 
Chapley, take yourself out of here and let that girl 
get dressed. And you, Amelia, go downstairs and 
cook a breakfast for her." 

Never, in all her life, had Rilla seen anything like 
the abject meekness with which those two big people 
obeyed that mite. They went without word or look 
of protest. As the door closed behind them Mrs. 
Matilda Pitman laughed silently, and rocked from side 
to side in her merriment. 

"Ain't it funny?" she said. "I mostly lets them 



MRS. MATILDA PITMAN 341 

run the length of their tether, but sometimes I has to 
pull them up, and then I does it with a jerk. They 
don't dast aggravate me, because IVe got considerable 
hard cash, and they're afraid I won't leave it all to 
them. Neither I will. I'll leave 'em some, but some 
I won't, just to vex 'em. I haven't made up my mind 
where I will leave it but I'll have to, soon, for at eighty 
a body is living on borrowed time. Now, you can take 
your time about dressing, my dear, and I'll go down 
and keep them mean scalawags in order. That's a 
handsome child you have there. Is he your brother? " 

" No, he's a little war-baby I've been taking care of, 
because his mother died and his father was over- 
seas," answered Rilla in a subdued tone. 

" War-baby ! Humph ! Well, I'd better skin out 
before he wakes up or he'll likely start in crying. 
Children don't like me — never did. I can't recollect 
any youngster ever coming near me of its own accord. 
Never had any of my own. Amelia was my step- 
daughter. Well, it's saved me a world of bother. If 
kids don't like me I don't like them, so that's an even 
score. But that certainly is a handsome child." 

Jims chose this moment for waking up. He opened 
his big brown eyes and looked at Mrs. Matilda Pit- 
man unblinkingly. Then he sat up, dimpled de- 
liciously, pointed to her and said solemnly to Rilla, 

" Pwitty lady, Willa — pwitty lady." 

Mrs. Matilda Pitman smiled. Even eighty-odd is 
sometimes vulnerable in vanity. 

" I've heard that children and fools tell the truth," 
she said. " I was used to compliments when I was 
young — but they're scarcer when you get as far along 



it 



342 RILLA OF INGLESroE 

as I am. I haven't had one for years. It tastes good 
I s'pose now, you monkey, you wouldn't give me a 
kiss." 

Then Jims did a quite surprising thing. He was not 
a demonstrative youngster and was chary with kisses 
even to the Ingleside people. But without a word he 
stood up in bed, his plump little body encased only in 
his undershirt, ran to the footboard, flung his amis I 
about Mrs. Matilda Pitman's neck, and gave her a bear 
hug, accompanied by three or four hearty, ungrudg- 
ing smacks. 

Jims," protested Rilla, aghast at this liberty. 
You leave him be," ordered Mrs. Matilda Pitman, 
setting her bonnet straight. " Laws I like to see some 
one that isn't skeered of me. Everybody is — you are, 
though you're trying to hide it And why? Of 
course Robert and Amelia are because I make 'em 
skeered on purpose. But folks always are — no mat- 
ter how civil I be to them. Are you going to keep this 
child?" 

" I'm afraid not His father is coming home be- 
fore long." 

Is he any good — the father, I mean ? " 
Well — he's kind and nice — but he's poor — and 
I'm afraid he always will be," faltered Rilla. 

"I see — shiftless — can't make or keep. Well, 
ril see — I'll see. I have ain idea. It's a good idea, 
and besides it will make Robert and Amelia squirm. 
That's its main merit in my eyes, though I like that 
child, mind you, because he ain't skeered of me. He's 
worth some bother. Now, you get dressed, as I said 
before, and come down when you're good and ready." 



It 

u 






MRS. MATILDA PITMAN 343 

Rilla was stiff and sore after her tumble and walk 
of the night before, but she was not long in dressing 
herself and Jims^ When she went down to the kitchen 
she found a smoking hot breakfast on the table. Mr. 
Chapley was nowhere in sight and Mrs. Chapley was 
cutting bread with a sulky air. Mrs. Matilda Pitman 
was sitting in an armchair, knitting a grey army sock. 
She still wore her bonnet and her triumphant expres- 
sion. 

" Set right in, dears, and make a good breakfast," 
she said. 

I am not hungry," said Rilla almost pleadingly. 

I don't think I can eat anything. And it is time I 
was starting for the station. The morning train will 
soon be along. Please excuse me and let us go — I'll 
take a piece of bread and butter for Jims." 

Mrs. Matilda Pitman shook a knitting needle play- 
fully at Rilla. 

'' Sit down and take your breakfast," she said. 
" Mrs. Matilda Pitman commands you. Everybody 
obeys Mrs. Matilda Pitman — even Robert and 
Amelia. You must obey her too." 

Rilla did obey her. She sat down and, such was the 
influence of Mrs. Matilda Pitman's mesmeric eye, she 
ate a tolerable breakfast. The obedient Amelia never 
spoke ; Mrs. Matilda Pitman did not speak either ; but 
she knitted furiously and chuckled. When Rilla had 
finished, Mrs. Matilda Pitman rolled up her sock. 

" Now you can go if you want to," she said, " but 
you don't have to go. You can stay here as long as 
you want to and FU make Amelia cook your meals for 
you." 



344 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

The indq)endent Miss BIythe, whom a certain clique 
of Junior Red Cross girls accused of being domineer- 
ing and " bossy," was thoroughly cowed. 

" Thank you," she said meekly, " but we must really 

go- 

" Well, then," said Mrs. Matilda Pitman, throwing 

open the door, ** Your conveyance is ready for you. I 
told Robert he must hitch up and drive you to the 
station. I enjoy making Robert do things. It's al- 
most the only sport I have left. I'm over eighty and 
most things have lost their flavour except bossing 
Robert." 

Robert sat before the door on the front seat of a 
trim, douWe-seated, rubber-tired buggy. He must 
have heard every word his mother-in-law said but he 
gave no sign. 

" I do wish," said Rilla, plucking up what little spirit 
she had left, " that you would let me — oh — ah — " 
then she quailed again before Mrs. Matilda Pitman's 
eye — " recompense you for — for — " 

" Mrs. Matilda Pitman said before — and meant it 
— that she doesn't take pay for entertaining strangers, 
nor let other people where she lives do it, much as their 
natural meanness would like to do it. You go along 
to town and don't forget to call the next time you come 
this way. Don't be scared. Not that you are scared 
;of much, I reckon, considering the way you sassed Rob- 
ert back this morning. I like your spunk. Most girls 
nowadays are such timid, skeery creeturs. When I 
was a girl I wasn't afraid of nothing nor nobody. 
Mind you take good care of that boy. He ain't any 
common child. And make Robert drive around all the 



WORD FROM JEM 345 

puddles in the road. I won't have that new buggy 
splashed." 

As they drove away Jims threw kisses at Mrs. 
Matilda Pitman as long as he could see her, and Mrs. 
Matilda Pitman waved her sock back at him. Robert 
spoke no word, either good or bad, all the way to the 
station, but he remembered the puddles. When Rilla 
got out at the siding she thanked him courteously. 
The only response she got was a grunt as Robert 
turned his horse and started for home. 

" Well "— Rilla drew a long breath — " I must try 
to get back into Rilla Blythe again. I've been some- 
body else these past few hours — I don't know just 
who — some creation of that extraordinary old per- 
son's. I believe she hypnotized me. What an ad- 
venture this will be to write the boys." 

And then she sighed. Bitter remembrance came 
that there were only Jerry and Carl and Shirley to 
write it to now. Jem — who would have appreciated 
Mrs. Matilda Pitman keenly — where was Jem ? 



CHAPTER XXXII 
Word From Jem 

August 4th, 19 18 

IT is four years tonight since the dance at the light- 
house — four years of war. It seems like three 
times four. I was fifteen then. I am nineteen now. 
I expected that these past four years would be the most 



346 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ddigfatf ul years of my fife and tfaey have been years of 
war — years of fear and grief and worry, — but I 
humbly hope, of a Uttle growth in stro^^ and diarac- 
ter as welL 

** Today I was going through the hall and I beard 
mother saying something to father about me. I didn't 
mean to listen — I couldn't help hearing her as I went 
along the hall and upstairs — so peihaps that is why I 
heard what listeners are said never to hear — some- 
thing good of myself. And because it was mother 
who said it I*m going to write it here in my journal, 
for my comforting when days of discouragement come 
upon me, in which I feel that I am vain and selfish 
and weak and that there is no good thing in me. 

** * Rilla has developed in a wonderful fashion these 
past four years. She used to be such an irresponsible 
young creature. She has changed into a capable, 
womanly girl and she is such a comfort to me. Nan 
and Di have grown a little away from me — they have 
been so little at home — but Rilla has grown closer and 
closer to me. We are chums. I don't see how I 
could have got through these terrible years without 
her, Gilbert/ 

" There, that is just what mother said — and I feel 
glad — and sorry — and proud — and hiunble! It's 
beautiful to have my mother think that about me — 
but I don't deserve it quite. I'm not as good and 
strong as all that. There are heaps of times when I 
have felt cross and impatient and woeful and despair- 
ing. It is mother and Susan who have been this fam- 
ily's backbone. But I have helped a little, I believe, 
and I am so glad and thankful. 

" The war news has been good right along. The 



WORD FROM JEM 347 

French and Americans are pushing the Germans back 
and back and back. Sometimes I am afraid it is too 
good to last — after nearly four years of disasters one 
has a feeling that this constant suc(;ess is unbelievable. 

" We don't rejoice noisily over it. Susan keeps the 
flag up but we go softly. The price paid has been too 
high for jubilation. We are just thankful that it has 
not been paid in vain. 

" No word has come from Jem. We hope — be- 
cause we dare not do anything else. But there are 
hours when we all feel — though we never say so — 
that such hoping is foolishness. These hours come 
more and more frequently as the weeks go by. And 
we may never know. That is the most terrible thought 
of all. I wonder how Faith is bearing it. To judge 
from her letters she has never for a moment given up 
hope, but she must have had her dark hours of doubt 
like the rest of us." 

August 20th, 19 1 8 
*' The Canadians have been in action again and Mr. 
Meredith had a cable today saying that Carl had been 
slightly wounded and is in the hospital. It did not say 
where the wound was, which is unusual, and we all 
feel worried. 

" There is news of a fresh victory every day now." 

August 30th, 19 18 
" The Merediths had a letter from Carl today. His 

wound was "only a slight one" — but it was in his 

right eye and the sight is gone forever ! 

" * One eye is enough to watch bugs with,' Carl 

writes cheerfully. And we know it might have been 



348 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

oh so much worse! If it had been both eyes! But I 
cried all the afternoon after I saw Carl's letter. Those 
beautiful, fearless blue eyes of his! 

"There is one comfort — he will not have to go 
back to the front. He is coming home as soon as he is 
out of the hospital — the first of our boys to return. 
When will the others come ? 

" And there is one who will never come. At least 
we will not see him if he does. But, oh, I think he will 
be there — when our Canadian soldiers return there 
will be a shadow army with them — the army of the 
fallen. We will not see them — but they will be 
there!" 

September ist, 19 18 
" Mother and I went into Charlottetown yesterday to 
see the moving picture, " Hearts of the World." I 
made an awful goose of myself — father will never 
stop teasing me about it for the rest of my life. But it 
all seemed so horribly real — and I was so intensely 
interested that I forgot everything but the scenes I saw 
enacted before my eyes. And then, quite near the last, 
came a terribly exciting one. The heroine was strug- 
gling with a horrible German soldier who was trying 
to drag her away. I knew she had a knife — I had 
seen her hide it, to have it in readiness — and I couldn't 
understand why she didn't produce it and finish the 
brute. I thought she must have forgotten it, and just 
at the tensest moment of the scene I lost my head alto- 
gether. I just stood right up on my feet in that 
crowded house and shrieked at the top of my voice — 
' The knife is in your stocking — the knife is in your 
stocking!' 



WORD FROM JEM 349 

" I created a sensation ! 

** The funny part was, that just as I said it, the girl 
did snatch out the knife and stab the soldier with it! 

'* Everybody in the house laughed, I came to my 
senses and fell back in my seat, overcome with mortifi- 
cation. Mother was shaking with laughter. / 
could have shaken her. Why hadn't she pulled me 
down and choked me before I had made such an idiot 
of myself. She -protests that there wasn't time. 

" Fortunately the house was dark, and I don't be- 
lieve there was anybody there who knew me. And I 
thought I was becoming sensible and self-controlled 
and womanly! It is plain I have some distance to go 
yet before I attain that devoutly desired consumma- 
tion," 

September 20th, 1918 
" In the east Bulgaria has asked for peace, and in the 
west the British have smashed the Hindenburg line; 
and right here in Glen St. Mary little Bruce Meredith 
has done something that I think wonderful —^ wonder- 
ful because of the love behind it. Mrs. Meredith was 
here tonight and told us about it — and mother and I 
cried, and Susan got up and clattered the things about 
the stove. 

" Bruce always loved Jem very devotedly, and the 
child has never forgotten him in all these years. He 
has been as faithful in his way as Dbg Monday was in 
his. We have always told him that Jem would come 
back. But it seems that he was in Carter Flaggs' store 
last night and he heard his Uncle Norman flatly declar- 
ing that Jem Blythe would never come back and that the 
Ingleside folks might as well give up hoping he would. 



350 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Bruce went home and cried himself to sleep. This 
morning his mother saw him going out of tiie yard, 
with a very sorrowful and determined look, carrying 
his pet kitten. She didn't think much more about it 
until later on he came in, with the most tragic little face, 
and told her, his little body shaking with big sobs, that 
he had drowned Stripey, 

" * Why did you do that ? ' Mrs. Meredith exclaimed. 

" ' To bring Jem back/ sobbed Bruce. ' I thought 
if I sacrificed Stripey God would send Jem back. So I 
drownded him — and, oh mother, is was awful hard — 
but surely God will send Jem back now, 'cause Stripey 
was the dearest thing I had. I just told God I would 
give Him Stripey if He would send Jem back. And 
He will, won't He, mother ? ' 

" Mrs. Meredith didn't know what to say to the poor 
child. She just could not tell him that perhaps his 
sacrifice wouldn't bring Jem back — that God didn't 
work that way. She told him that he mustn't expect it 
right away — thalt perhaps it would be quite a long 
time yet before Jem came back. But Bruce said, 

" ' It oughtn't to take longer'n a week, mother. Oh, 
mother, Stripey was such a nice little cat. He purred 
so pretty. Don't you think God ought to like him 
enough to let us have Jem ? ' 

" Mr. Meredith is worried about the effect^on Bruce's 
faith in God, and Mrs. Meredith is worried about the 
effect on Bruce himself if his hope isn't fulfilled. And 
I feel as if I must cry every time I think of it. It was 
so splendid — and sad — and beautiful. The dear, de- 
voted little fellow ! He worshipped that kitten. And 
if it all goes for nothing — as so many sacrifices seem 
to go for nothing — he will be broken-hearted, for he 



WORD FROM JEM 351 

isn't old enough to understand that God doesn't answer 
our prayers just as we hope — and doesn't make bar- 
gains with us when we yield something we love up to 
Him." 

September 24th, 19 18 

" I have been kneeling at my window in the moon- 
shine for a long time, just thanking God over and over 
again. The joy of last night and today has been so 
great that it seemed half pain — as if our hearts weren't 
big enough to hold it. 

" Last night I was sitting here in my room at eleven 
o'clock, writing a letter to Shirley. Everyone else was 
in bed, except fathef, who was out I heard the tele- 
phone ring and I ran out to the hall to answer it, be- 
fore it should waken mother. It was long-distance 
calling, and when I answered it said ' This is the tele- 
graph Company's office in Charlottetown. There is 
an overseas cable for Dr. Blythe.' 

" I thought of Shirley — my heart stood still — and 
then I heard him saying, * It's from Holland.' 

" The message was 

"*Just arrived. Escaped from Germany. Quite 
well. Writing. 

* James Blythe,' 

" I didn't faint or fall or scream. I didn't feel glad 
or surprised. I didn't feel anything. I felt numb, 
just as I did when I heard Walter had enlisted. I 
hung up the receiver and turned round. Mother was 
standing in her doorway. She wore her old lose 
kimono, and her hair was hanging down her back in a 



SS2 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

long thick braid, and her eyes were shining. She 
looked just like a young girl. 

" * There is word from Jem ? * she said. 

" How did she know? I hadn't said a word at the 
'phone except 'Yes — yes — yes.* She says she 
doesn't know how she knew, but she did know. She 
was awake and she heard the ring and she knew that 
there was word from Jem. 

" * He's alive — he's well — he's in Holland,' I said, 

" Mother came out into the hall and said, 

*' ' I must get your father on the 'phone and tell him. 
He is in the Upper Glen.' 

" She was vjery calm and quiet — • not a bit like I 
would have expected her to be. But then I wasn't 
either. I went and woke up Gertrude and Susan and 
told them. Susan said ' Thank God,' firstly, and sec- 
ondly she said ' Did I not tell you Dog Monday knew ? ' 
and thirdly, ' I'll go down and make a cup of tea,' — 
and she stalked down in her nightdress to make it. 
She did make it — and made mother and Gertrude 
drink it — but I went back to my room and shut my 
door and locked it, and knelt by my window and cried 
— just as Gertrude did when her great news came. 

" I think I know at last exactly what I shall feel like 
on the resurrection morning." 

October 4th, 1918 
" Today Jem's letter came. It has been in the house 

only six hours and it is almost read to pieces. The 

post-mistress told everybody in the Glen it had come, 

and everybody came up to hear the news. 

"Jem was badly wounded in the thigh — and he 

was picked up and taken to prison, so delirious with 



WORD FROM JEM 353 

fever that he didn't know what was happening to him 
or where he was. It was weeks before he came to his 
senses and was able to write. Then he did write — 
but it never came. He wasn't treated at all badly at 
his camp — only the food was poor. He had nothing 
to eat but a little black bread and boiled turnips and 
now and then a little soup with black peas in it. And 
we sat down every one of those days to three good 
square luxurious meals ! He wrote us as often as he 
could but he was afraid we were not getting his letters 
because no reply came. As soon as he was strong 
enough he tried to escape, but was caught and brought 
back; a month later he and a comrade made another 
attempt and succeeded in reaching Holland. 

'* Jem can't come home right away. He isn't quite 
so well as his cable said, for his wound has not healed 
properly and he has to go into a hospital in England 
for further treatment. But he says he will be all right 
eventually, and we know he is safe and will be back 
home sometime, and oh, the difference it makes in 
everything! 

" I had a letter from Jim Anderson today, too. He 
has married an English girl, got his discharge, and is 
coming right home to Canada with his bride. I don't 
know whether to be glad or sorry. It will all depend 
on what kind of a woman she is. I had a second let- 
ter also of a somewhat mysterious tenor. It is from a 
Charlottetown lawyer, asking me to go in to see him 
at my earliest convenience in regard to a certain matter 
connected with the estate of the *late Mrs. Matilda 
Pitman.' 

" I read a notice of Mrs. Pitman's death — from 
heart- failure — in the Enterprise a few weeks ago. I 



354 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

wonder if this summons has anything to do with Jims." 

October 4th, 1918 
" I went into town this morning and had an inter- 
view with Mrs. Pitman's lawyer, — a little thin, wispy 
man, who spoke of his late client with such profound 
respect that it is evident that he was as much under her 
thumb as Robert and Amelia were. He drew up a 
new will for her a short time before her death. She 
was worth thirty thousand dollars, the bulk of which 
was left to Amelia Chapley. But she left five thou- 
sand to me in trust for Jims. The interest is to be 
used as I see fit for his education, and the principal is 
to be paid over to him on his twentieth birthday. Cer- 
tainly Jims was bom lucky. I saved him from slow 
extinction at the hands of Mrs. Conover, — Mary 
Vance saved him from death by diphtheritic croup, — 
his star saved him when he fell off the train. And he 
tumbled not only into a clump of bracken, but right 
into this nice little legacy. Evidently, as Mrs. Matilda 
Pitman said, and as I have always believed, he is no 
common child and has no common destiny in store 
for him. 

"At all events he is provided for, and in such a 
fashion that Jim Anderson can't squander his inherit- 
ance if he wanted to. Now, if the new English step- 
mother is only a good sort I shall feel quite easy about 
the future of my war-baby. 

" I wonder what Robert and Amelia think of it. I 
fancy they will nail down theif windows when they 
leave home after this ! " 



VICTORY!! 355 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

VICTORY ! ! 

A DAY * of chilling winds and gloomy skies/ " 
Rilla quoted one Sunday afternoon, — the sixth 
of October to be exact. It was so cold that they had 
lighted a fire in the living room and the merry little 
flames were doing their best to counteract the outside 
dourness. " It's more like November than October — 
November is such an ugly month." 

Cousin Sophia was there, having again forgiven 
Susan, and Mrs. Martin Clow, who was not visiting on 
Sunday but had dropped in to borrow Susan's cure for 
rheumatism — that being cheaper than getting one 
from the doctor. 

** Fm afeared we're going to have an airly winter," 
foreboded Cousin Sophia. " The muskrats are build- 
ing awful big houses around the pond, and that*s a sign 
that never fails. Dear me, how that child has grown ! " 
Cousin Sophia sighed again, as if it were an unhappy 
circumstance that a child should grow. "When do 
you expect his father? " 

'* Next week," said Rilla. 

" Well, I hope the stepmother won't abuse the pore 
child," sighed Cousin Sophia, " but I have my doubts 
— I have my doubts. Anyhow, he'll be sure to feel the 
difference between his usage here and what he'll get 
anywhere else. You've spoiled him so, Rilla, waiting 
on him hand and foot the way you've always done." 

Rilla smiled and pressed her cheek to Jims' curls. 
She knew sweet-tempered, sunny, little Jims was not 



356 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

spoiled. Nevertheless her heart was anxious behind 
her smile. She, too, thought much about the new Mrs, 
Anderson and wondered uneasily what she would be 
like. 

" I can't give Jims up to a woman who won't love 
him/' she thought rebelliously. 

" I b'lieve it's agoing to rain," said Cousin Sophia. 
" We have had an awful lot of rain this fall already. 
It's going to make it awful hard for people to get their 
roots in. It wasn't so in my young days. We 
gin'rally had beautiful Octobers then. But the seasons 
is altogether different now from what they used to be." 

Qear across Cousin Sophia's doleful voice cut the 
telephone bell. Gertrude Oliver answered it. "Yes 
— what? What? Is it true — is it official? Thank 
you — thank you." 

Gertrude turned and faced the room dramatically, 
her dark eyes flashing, her dark face flushed with feel- 
ing. All at once the sun broke through the thick 
clouds and poured through the big crimson maple out- 
side the window. Its reflected glow enveloped her in 
a weird, immaterial flame. She looked like a priestess 
performing some mystic, splendid rite. 

" Germany and Austria are suing for peace," she 
said. 

Rilla went crazy for a few minutes. She sprang up 
and danced around the room, clapping her hands, 
laughing, crying. 

" Sit down, child," said Mrs. Clow, who never got 
excited over anything, and so had missed a tremendous 
amount of trouble and delight in her journey through 
life. 

" Oh," cried Rilla, " I have walked the floor for 



VICTORY ! ! 357 

hours in despair and anxiety in these past four years. 
Now let me walk it in joy. It was worth living long 
dreary years for this minute, and it would be worth 
living them again just to look back to it. Susan, let's 
run up the flag — and we must 'phone the news to 
every one in the Glen." 

" Can we have as much sugar as we want to now ? " 
asked Jims eagerly. 

It was a never-to-be-forgotten afternoon. As the 
news spread excited people ran about the village and 
dashed up to Ingleside. The Merediths came over and 
stayed to supper and everybody talked and nobody lis- 
tened. Cousin Sophia tried to protest that Germany 
and Austria were not to be trusted and it was all part 
of a plot, but nobody paid the least attention to her, 

"This Sunday makes up for that one in March," 
said Susan. 

I wonder," said Gertrude dreamily, apart to Rilla, 

if things won't seem rather flat and insipid when 
peace really comes. After being fed for four years 
on horrors and fears, terrible reverses, amazing victor- 
ies, won't anything less be tame and uninteresting? 
How strange — and blessed — and dull it will be not 
to dread the coming of the mail every day." 

" We must dread it for a little while yet, I suppose," 
said Rilla. " Peace won't come — can't come — for 
some weeks yet. And in those weeks dreadful things 
may happen. My excitement is over. We have won 
the victory — but oh, what a price we have paid ! " 

" Not too high a price for freedom," said Gertrude 
softly. " Do you think it was, Rilla ? " 

" No," said Rilla, under her breath. She was seeing 
a little white cross on a battlefield of France. " No — 






358 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 



not if those of us who live will show ourselves worthy 
of it — if we 'keep faith/" 

" We tvUl keep faith," said Gertrude. She rose sud- 
denly. A silence fell around the table, and in the 
silence Gertrude repeated Walter's famous poem " The 
Piper.' When she finished Mr. Meredith stood up and 
held up his glass. 

" Let us drink," he said, *' to the silent army, — to 
the boys who followed when the Piper summoned. 
' For our tomorrow they gave their today ' — ^theirs is 
the victory I * 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

Mr. Hyde Goes to His Own Place and 
Susan Takes a Honeymoon 

EARLY in November Jims left Ingleside. Rilla 
saw him go with many tears but a heart free 
from boding. Mrs. Jim Anderson, Number Two, was 
such a nice little woman that one was rather inclined to 
wonder at the luck which bestowed her on Jim. She 
was rosy-faced and blue-eyed and wholesome, with the 
roundness and trigness of a geranium leaf. Rilla saw 
at first glance that she was to be trusted with Jims. 

"Fm fond of children, miss," she said heartily. 
" I'm used to them — I've left six little brothers and sis- 
ters behind me. Jims is a dear child and I must say 
you've done wonders in bringing him up so healthy and 
handsome. FU be as good to him as if he was my own, 



MR, HYDE AND SUSAN 359 

miss. And Til make Jim toe the line all right. He's 
a good worker — all he needs is some one to keep him 
at it, and to take charge of his money. We've rented 
a little farm just out of the village, and wre're going to 
settle down there. Jim wanted to stay in England but 
I says ' No.' I hankered to try a new country and I've 
always thought Canada would suit me." 

" I'm so glad you are going to live near us. You'll 
let Jims come here often, won't you? I love him 
dearly." 

" No doubt you do, miss, for a lovabler child I never 
did see. We understand, Jim and me, what you've 
done for him, and you won't find us ungrateful. He 
can come here whenever you want him and I'll always 
be glad of any advice from you about his bringing-up. 
He is more your baby than any one else's I should say, 
and I'll see that you get your fair share of him, miss." 

So Jims went away — with the soup tureen, though 
not in it. Then the news of the armistice came, and 
even Glen St. Mary went mad. That night the village 
had a bonfire, and burned the Kaiser in effigy. The 
fishing village boys turned out and burned all the sand- 
hills off in one grand glorious conflagration that ex- 
tended for seven miles. Up at Ingleside Rilla ran 
laughing to her room. 

" Now I'm going to do a most unladylike and inex- 
cusable thing," she said, as she pulled her green velvet 
hat out of its box. " I'm going to kick this hat about 
the room until it is without form and void ; and I shall 
never as long as I live wear anything of that shade of 
green again." 

" You've certainly kept your vow pluckily," laughed 
Miss Oliver. 



36o RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

" It wasn't pluck — it was sheer obstinacy — Fm 
rather ashamed of it," said Rilla, kicking joyously. ** I 
just wanted to show mother. It's mean to want to 
show your mother — most unfilial conduct! But I 
have shown her. And I've shown myself a few things ! 
Oh, Miss Oliver, just for one moment I'm really feel- 
ing quite young again — young and frivolous and silly. 
Did I ever say November was an ugly month ? Why 
it's the most beautiful month in the whole year. 
Listen to the bells ringing in Rainbow Valley ! I never 
heard them so clearly. They're ringing for peace — 
and new happiness — and all the dear, sweet, same 
homey things that we can have again now. Miss Oliver. 
Not that / am sane just now — I don't pretend to be. 
The whole world is having its little crazy spell today. 
Soon we'll sober down — and * keep faith ' — and be- 
gin to build up our new world. But just for today 
let's be mad and glad." 

Susan came in from the outdoor sunlight looking 
supremely satisfied. 

" Mr. Hyde is gone," she announced. 

" Gone ! Do you mean he is dead, Susan ? " 

" No, Mrs. Dr. dear, that beast is not dead. But 
you will never see him again I feel sure of that." 

" Don't be so mysterious, Susan. What has hap- 
pened to him ? " 

"Well, Mrs. Dr. dear, he was sitting out on the 
back steps this afternoon. It was just after the news 
came that the armistice had been signed and he was 
looking his Hydest. I can assure you he was an 
awesome looking beast. All at once, Mrs. Dr. dear, 
Bruce Meredith came around the corner of the kitchen 
walking on his stilts. He has been learning to walk 



MK HYDE AND SUSAN 361 

on them lately and came over to show me how well he 
could do it. Mr, Hyde just took a look and one bound 
carried him over the yard fence. Then he went tear- 
ing through the maple grove in great leaps with his 
ears laid back. You never saw a creature so terrified, 
Mrs. Dr. dear. He has never returned." 

**0h, he'll come back, Susan, probably chastened 
in spirit by his fright." 

"We will see, Mrs. Dr. dear — we will see. Re- 
meitiber, the armistice has been signed. And that re- 
minds me that Whiskers-on-the-moon had a paralytic 
stroke last night. I am not saying it is a judgment on 
him, because I am not in the counsels of the Almighty, 
but one can have one's own thoughts about it. Neither 
Whiskers-on-the-moon or Mr. Hyde will be much more 
heard of in Glen St. Mary, Mrs. Dr. dear, and that you 
may tie to." 

Mr. Hyde certainly was heard of no more. As it 
could hardly have been his fright that kept him away 
the Ingleside folks decided that some dark fate of shot 
or poison had descended on him — except Susan, who 
believed and continued to affirm that he had merely 
" gone to his own place." Rilla lamented him, for 
she had been very fond of her stately golden pussy, and 
had liked him quite as well in his weird Hyde moods as 
in his tame Jekyll ones. 

" And now, Mrs. Dr. dear," said Susan, " since the 
fall housecleaning is over and the garden truck is all 
safe in cellar, I am going to take a honeymoon to cele- 
brate the peace." 

" A honeymoon^ Susan ? " 

*' Yes, Mrs. Dr. dear, a honeymoon," repeated Susan 
firmly. ** I shall never be able to get a husband but I 



362 lULLA OF INGLESroE 

am not going to be cheated out of eveiything and a 
honeymoon I intend to have. I am going to Char- 
lottetown to visit my married brother and his family. 
His wife has been ailing all the fall, but nobody knows 
whether she is going to die or not. She never did tell 
any one what she was going to do until she did it 
That is the main reason why she was never liked in our 
family. But to be on the safe side I feel that I should 
visit her. I have not been in town for over a day for 
twenty years and I have a feeling that I might as well 
see one of these moving pictures there is so much talk 
of, so as not to be wholly out of the swim. But have 
no fear that I shall be carried away with them, Mrs. 
Dr. dear. I shall be away a fortnight if you can spare 
me so long." 

** You certainly deserve a good holiday, Susan. Bet- 
ter take a month — that is the proper length for a 
honeymoon." 

" No, Mrs. Dr. dear, a fortnight is all I require. 
Besides, I must be home for at least three weeks before 
Christmas to make the proper preparations. We-will 
have a Christmas that is a Christmas this year, Mrs. 
Dr. dear. Do you think there is any chance of our 
boys being home for it ? " 

" No, I think not, Susan. Both Jem and Shirley 
write that they don't expect to be home before spring 
— it may be even midsummer before Shirley comes. 
But Carl Meredith will be home, and Nan and Di, and 
we will have a grand celebration once more. We'll 
set chairs for all, Susan, as you did our first war 
Christmas, — yes, for all — for my dear lad whose 
chair must always be vacant, as well as for the others, 
Susan." 



"RILLA-MY-RILLA !" 363 

" It is not likely I would forget to set his place, Mrs. 
Dr. dear/' said Susan, wiping her eyes as she departed 
to pack up for her " honeymoon." 



CHAPTER XXXV 

" RiLLA-M Y-RlLLA ! " 

CARL MEREDITH and Miller Douglas came 
home just before Christmas and Glen St. Mary 
met them at the station with a brass band borrowed 
from Lowbridge and speeches of home manufacture. 
Miller was brisk and beaming in spite of his wooden 
leg; he had developed into a broad-shouldered, impos- 
ing looking fellow and the D. C. medal he wore recon- 
ciled Miss Cornelia to the shortcomings of his pedigree 
to such a degree that she tacitly recognized his engage- 
ment to Mary. The latter put on a few airs — espe- 
cially when Carter Flagg took Miller into his store as 
head clerk — but nobody grudged them to her. 

" Of course farming's out of the question for us 
now," she told Rilla, " but Miller thinks he'll like store 
keeping fine once he gets used to a quiet life again, 
and Carter Flagg will be a more agreeable boss than 
old Kitty. We're going to be married in the fall and 
live in the old Mead house with the bay windows and 
the mansard roof. I've always thought that the hand- 
somest house in the Glen, but never did I dream I'd 
ever live there. We're only renting it, of course, but 
if things go as we expect and Carter Flagg takes Mil- 



364 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

ler into partnership we'll own it some day. Say, I've 
got on some in society, haven't I, considering what I 
come from ? I never aspired to being a storekeeper's 
wife. But Miller's real ambitious and he*ll have a wife 
that'll back him up. He says he never saw a French 
girl worth looking at twice and that his heart beat true 
to me every moment he was away." 

Jerry Meredith and Joe Milgrave came back in 
January, and all winter the boys from the Glen and its 
environs came home by twos and threes. None of 
them came back just as they went away, not even those 
who had been so fortunate as to escape any injury. 

One spring day, when the daffodils were blowing on 
the Ingleside lawn, and the banks of the brook in Rain- 
bow Valley were sweet with white and purple violets, 
the little, lazy afternoon accommodation train pulled 
into the Glen station. It was very seldom that pas- 
sengers for the Glen came by that train, so nobody was 
there to meet it except the new station agent and a 
small black and yellow dog, who for four and a half 
long years had met every train that had steamed into 
Glen St. Mary, Thousands of trains had Dog Mon- 
day met and never had the boy he waited and watched 
for returned. Yet still Dog Monday watched on with 
eyes that never quite lost hope. Perhaps his dog- 
heart failed him at times; he was growing old and 
rheumatic; when he walked back to his kennel after 
each train had gone his gait was very sober now — he 
never trotted but went slowly with a drooping head 
and a depressed tail that had quite lost its old saucy 
uplift. 

One passenger stepped off the train — a tall fellow 
in a faded lieutenant's uniform, who walked with a 



J 



"RILLA-MY-RILLA !" 365 

barely perceptible limp. He had a bronzed face and 
there were some grey hairs in the ruddy curls that 
clustered around his forehead. The new station agent 
looked at him anxiously. He was used to seeing the 
khaki-clad figures come off the train, some met by a 
tumultuous crowd, others, who had sent no word of 
their coming, stepping off quietly like this one. But 
there was a certain distinction of bearing and features 
in this soldier that caught his attention and made him 
wonder a little more interestedly who he was. 

A black and yellow streak shot past the station agent. 
Dog Monday stiff? Dog Monday rheumatic? Dog 
Monday old ? Never believe it. Dog Monday was a 
young pup, gone clean mad with rejuvenating joy. 

He flung himself against the tall soldier, with a bark 
that choked in his throat from sheer rapture. He 
flung himself on the ground and writhed in a frenzy 
of welcome. He tried to climb the soldier's khaki legs 
and slipped down and grovelled in an ecstasy that 
seemed as if it must tear his little body in pieces. He 
licked his boots and when the lieutenant had, with 
laughter on his lips and tears in his eyes, succeeded in 
gathering the little creature up in his arms Dog Monday 
laid his head on the khaki shoulder and licked the sun- 
burned neck, making queer sounds between barks and 
sobs. 

The station agent had heard the story of Dog Mon- 
day. He knew now who the returned soldier was. 
Dog Monday's long vigil was ended. Jem Blythe had 
come home. 

*'We 3 re all very happy — and sad — and thank- 
ful," wrote Rilla in her diary a week later. ** though 
Susan has not yet recovered — never will recover, I 



366 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

believe — from the shock of having Jem come home 
the very night she had, owing to a strenuous day, pre- 
pared a * pick up ' supper. I shall never forget the 
sight of her, tearing madly about from pantry to cellar, 
hunting out stored away goodies. Just as if anybody 
cared what was on the table — none of us could eat, 
anyway. It was meat and drink just to look at Jem. 
Mother seemed afraid to take her eyes off him lest he 
vanish out of her sight. It is wonderful to have Jem 
back — and little Dog Monday. Monday refuses to 
be separated from Jem for a moment. He sleeps on 
the foot of his bed and squats beside him at meal 
times. And on Sunday he went to church with him 
and insisted on going right into our pew, where he 
went to sleep on Jem's feet. In the middle of the ser- 
mon he woke up and seemed to think he must welcome 
Jem all over again, for he bounced up with a series of 
barks and wouldn't quiet down until Jem took him up 
in his arms. But nobody seemed to mind, and Mr. 
Meredith came and patted his head after the service 
and said, 

" * Faith and affection and loyalty are precious things 
wherever they are found. That little dog's love is a 
treasure, Jem.' 

" One night when Jem and I were talking things 
over in Rainbow Valley, I asked him if he had ever 
felt afraid at the front. 

" Jem laughed. 

"'Afraid! I was afraid scores of times — sick 
with fear, — I who used to laugh at Walter when he 
was frightened. Do you know, Walter was never 
frightened after he got to the front. Realities never 
scared him — only his imagination could do that. His 



"RILLA-MY-RILLA!" 367 

colonel told me that Walter was the bravest man in 
the regiment. Rilla, I never realised that Walter was 
dead till I came back home. You don't know how I 
miss him now — you folks here have got used to it in 
a sense — but it's all fresh to me. Walter and I grew 
up together — we were chums as well as brothers — 
and now here, in this old valley we loved when we were 
children, it has come home to me that Fm not to see 
him again.' 

" Jem is going back to College in the fall and so are 
Jerry and Carl. I suppose Shirley will, too. He ex- 
pects to be home in July. Nan and Di will go on teach- 
ing. Faith doesn't expect to be home before Septem- 
ber. I suppose she will teach then, too, for she and 
Jem can't be married until he gets through his course 
in medicine. Una Meredith has decided, I think, to 
take a course in Household Science at Kingsport — 
and Gertrude is to be married to her Major and is 
frankly happy about it, — * shamelessly happy ' she 
says; but I think her attitude is very beautiful. They 
are all talking of their plans and hopes — more soberly 
than they used to do long ago, but still with interest, 
and a determination to carry on and make good in 
spite of lost years. 

" * We're in a new world,' Jem says, ' and we've got 
to make it a better one than the old. That isn't done 
yet, though some folks seem to think it ought to be. 
The job isn't finished — it isn't really begun. The old 
world is destroyed and we must build up the new one. 
It will be the task of years. I've seen enough of war 
to realize that we've got to make a world where wars 
can't happen. We've given Prussianism its mortal 
wound, — but it isn't dead yet and it isn't confined to 



i 



368 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

Germany either. It isn't enough to drive out the old 
spirit — we've got to bring in the new.* 

"I'm writing down those words of Jem's in my 
diary so that I can read them over occasionally and gtt 
courage from them, when moods come when I find it 
not so easy to ' keep faith.' " 

Rilla closed her journal with a little sigh. Just dien 
she was not finding it easy to keep faith. All the rest 
seemed to have some special aim or ambition about 
which to build up their lives — she had none. And 
she was very lonely, horribly lonely. Jem had come 
back — but he was not the laughing boy-brother who 
had gone away in 19 14 and he belonged to Faith. 
Walter would never come back. She had not even 
Jims left. AH at once her world seemed wide and 
empty — that is, it had seemed wide and empty from 
the moment yesterday when she had read in a Montreal 
paper a fortnight-old list of returned soldiers in which 
was the name of Captain Kenneth Ford. 

So Ken was home — and he had not even written 
her that he was coming. He had been in Canada two 
weeks and she had not had a line from him. Of course 
he had forgotten — if there was ever anything to for- 
get — a handclasp — a kiss — a look — a promise 
asked under the influence of a passing emotion. It 
was all absurd — she had been a silly, romantic, inex- 
perienced goose. Well, she would be wiser in the 
future, — very wise, — and very discreet — and very 
contemptuous of men and their ways. 

" I suppose I'd better go with Una and take up 
Household Science, too,'* she thought, as she stood by 
her window and looked down through a delicate emer- 



"RILLA-MY-RILLA r 369 

aid tangle of young vines on Rainbow Valley, lying in 
a wonderful lilac light of sunset. There did not seem 
anything very attractive just then about Household 
Science, but, with a whole new world waiting to be 
built, a girl must do something. 

The door bell rang. Rilla turned reluctantly stair- 
wards. She must answer it — there was no one else 
in the house; but she hated the idea of callers just then. 
She went down stairs very slowly, and opened the 
front door. 

A man in khaki was standing on the steps — a tall 
fellow, with dark eyes and hair, and a narrow white 
scar running across his brown cheek. Rilla stared at 
him foolishly for a moment. Who was it ? 

She ought to know him — there was certainly some- 
thing very familiar about him, — 

" RiUa-my-RiUa,'' he said. 

" Ken," gasped Rilla. Of course, it was Ken — but 
he looked so much older — be was so much changed — 
that scar — the lines about his eyes and lips — her 
thoughts went whirling helplessly. 

Ken took the uncertain hand she held out, and looked 
at her. The slim Rilla of four years ago had rounded 
out into symmetry. He had left a school girl, and he 
found a woman — a woman with wonderful eyes and 
a dented lip, and rose-bloom cheek, — a woman alto- 
gether beautiful and desirable — the woman of his 
dreams. 

'' Is it Rilla-wy-Rilla ? '* he asked, meaningly. 

Emotion shook Rilla from head to foot. Joy — 
happiness — sorrow — fear — every passion that had 
wrung her heart in those four long years seemed to 



370 RILLA OF INGLESIDE 

surge up in her soul for a moment as the deeps of 
being were stirred. She tried to speak ; at first voice 
would not come. Then — 
" Yeth," said Rilla. 



THB END 



.ti,:i^m 



^ 






"t'S